First Female SGA President

Tami Voudouris Preston ’79, P’15 got involved in student government on campus as a way to meet people. Elected the first female president of the Student Government Association (SGA) in 1977, Preston now says that the people she worked with changed her life’s trajectory and allowed her to engage across a wide range of people who make Trinity College so special: students, faculty, administrators, and alumni. 

“We were trying hard to get more people involved in student government and show the value of having a voice on campus,” she says. “We wanted students to know they could have an impact on the college community during their four years. Our focus was on outreach, and I was pleased to see the number of participants increase over my years as president. We had an opportunity to be at the open part of the faculty meetings, and I had the opportunity to attend Board of Fellows meetings and to present to the Board of Trustees.”

Being the first woman SGA president—a position she held for two academic years—was significant. “It did feel like a big thing at the time,” says Preston. “I remember getting there in the fall of 1975, and among the things you realized were that the restrooms were not set up for women and that athletics and sporting opportunities were not balanced between men and women.”

During her tenure in SGA, the issues ranged from the budget for student activities to the makeup of the academic curriculum. Preston says she enjoyed representing the voice of the students but notes that it was not easy. In addition to her studies as a history major and her leadership in student government, she worked three jobs to help pay her tuition.

Preston connected with Jim English, then chairman of Connecticut Bank and Trust and later president of the college, through her campus leadership activities. English put her on a career path she had never imagined. Her journey included being one of four members in the first year of the analyst program at Salomon Brothers in New York City, graduating from Harvard Business School in 1983, and enjoying a successful global career in investment banking and private wealth management.

“Jim English saw my aptitude in analyzing financial situations and suggested that I take economics classes. After I graduated, he directed me to some Trinity alumni who helped me get a job on Wall Street for two years. He set me on a course for my career,” says Preston.

Though four decades have passed since Preston’s terms as president, her ties to Trinity are strong: She served as secretary of the Board of Trustees and several family members are graduates, including her husband, Michael Preston ’79, and son, Ben Preston ’15. “For me, Trinity was an incredibly formative experience,” she says. “I recognize the importance of a liberal arts education. Trinity College afforded me the opportunity to play a role in student government, to be elected an alumni trustee, and to have served as secretary of the Board of Trustees. I am honored to be able to give back to Trinity as an active alumna and donor.”

Next: First Female Honorary Degree Recipient, Caroline Maria Hewins