Welcome to the Princeton Club of Washington - Member Spotlight: Julius Coles *66


Member Spotlight: Julius Coles *66

A Life Around the Globe

My early years were spent in Atlanta, Georgia where I attended 
Booker T. Washington High School, and also Morehouse College. 
As a Morehouse Political Science major, I spent a year abroad
at the University of Geneva, and participated in a work camp in
in Dakar, Senegal (sophomore year). I even financed my first trip
to Africa by collecting $1 donations from my fellow undergraduates.
All this helped me conclude that I was destined for international
relations work focusing on the problems of the developing world.

I chose Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School because of its reputation
and the success of its graduates.  When I first arrived on the campus,
I was truly struck by its overall beauty and magnitude of the institution. 
(Morehouse had only about 900 students.)

My best decision at Princeton was to live at the Graduate College for
my two years of residency.  There I met students from different parts
of the world specializing in numerous academic fields. These students
have become life long friends and have contributed to my growth and
development after graduate school.

My first two years at Princeton had a major impact on my life. I gained
confidence in my ability to compete with other outstanding students.
Princeton also gave me an outstanding education which furthered my
development and successful career in international development -- now
spanning 41 years.

Shortly after Princeton I began work at the Agency for International
Development (Office of Central African Affairs).  I was to be assigned
to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, then in the midst of a civil
war.  But my Draft Board decided that Vietnam needed my services.

So I spent 1967-1969 carrying out development projects in the midst
of a full blown war. The home I stayed at was hit by 122 mm rockets,
and various planes were shot at with small arms and rocket fire. I had
the experience of traveling throughout South Vietnam and learned a
great deal about the limits of trying to achieve economic development
in war time.  In fact, I often thought that I would never leave Vietnam
alive, but fortunately, I did walk away from a war zone not having had
to kill anyone, and having a sense of achievement in improving the
quality of life of those experiencing that very cruel war.

My family consists of my wife and two daughters.  My daughters
have followed in my footsteps -- studying or working in international
development and resource conservation. But they decided to pursue
their studies elsewhere, and make their own path in life rather than
follow my footsteps at Princeton.

Currently, I am President of Africare, the oldest and largest private
voluntary agency working on the African continent.  Africare provides
$50 million in economic assistance annually to improve the quality
of life for Africans through 2,000 development projects including
HIV/AIDS, agricultural/food security, emergency/humanitarian
assistance, water and sanitation, education, micro credit and

I could not think of a better institution than Princeton to provide
you with the requisite academic knowledge, analytical and writing
skills needed to succeed in any field.  The quality of education I
received at Princeton far exceeded my expectations and made
an outstanding contribution to my professional achievements.

Webmaster Note: Julius Coles *66 was awarded the James
Madison Medal (given to outstanding graduate alumni) -- an
honor celebrated during Alumni Day (2007) ceremonies.

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