What would it be like to be adopted and to hire a private detective to trace your roots?only to find out that you are a princess? It sounds like the kind of thing that only happens in movies or fairy tales, but it really happened to a college student in West Virginia.

Sarah Culberson says, “I never dreamt something like this could happen.” She has been on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” and on the front page of the Los Angeles Times as well as other newspapers. Culberson grew up in Virginia after being adopted as an infant by Jim and Judy Culberson.

Her adoptive father, Jim, is a professor of neuroanatomy at West Virginia University, where her mother Judy is a special education teacher. The Culbersons adopted Sarah two days after her first birthday and raised her along with two other daughters. Sarah has been working in Los Angeles as an actress and dance instructor.

She learned of her royal heritage with the Mende tribe only two years ago after a private investigator helped her locate her father in Bumpe, Sierra Leone. The news, she said was shocking: Her father, Joseph Konia Kposowa, was a member of the ruling family of the Mende tribe in the southern province of Sierra Leone. She was, by birthright, a princess.

Following an emotional trip there, during which she was reunited with her father and other relatives, she realized that being a princess in this civil war ravaged country was not glamorous. Most people there lived in poverty, and the school where her father was headmaster was damaged and in danger of closing.

When she returned to America, she wanted to do something to make a difference in Sierra Leone, so she established the non-profit Kposowa Foundation to raise funds to help rebuild the Bumpe school. The renovated school will be a place students can also live while they learn.

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