Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice recently held the first of several three-way talks among the United States, Israeli and Palestinian leaders. Although the initial meeting ended with little progress other than a commitment to meet again, the fact that Rice was able to get these country’s leaders talking together in the same room is progress. And though these talks may seem insignificant and long overdue (this is nearly a 60-year-old conflict) year, they in fact are a groundbreaking success for the world. And the person we have to thank for that is our very own Condoleezza Rice.
Born in Birmingham, Alabama in 1954, Rice grew up as an only child in the midst of America’s civil rights struggle. Her father was a Presbyterian minister and high school guidance counselor and her mother was a high school teacher. As Rice recalls of her parents and their friends, "they refused to allow the limits and injustices of their time to limit our horizons.” Although Rice was subject to racism quite frequently, she never allowed her environment to limit her development and progress. And thank goodness for that, because her contributions to this world (thus far) are inspiring.
Rice earned a Bachelor of Arts, Masters Degree, and PhD in Political Science, before beginning her professional career at Stanford University, teaching Political Science. She began as an Assistant Professor and was promoted to Associate Professor, university Provost, and finally full Professor, a title which she continues to hold. In addition to being the first female and first minority to hold the position of Provost at Stanford, Rice was the youngest Provost in Stanford's history. Rice helped Stanford erase a $20 million deficit when others believed it would be impossible. Coit Blacker, Stanford's deputy director of the Institute for International Studies said, “There was a sort of conventional wisdom that said it couldn't be done ... that [the deficit] was structural, that we just had to live with it." Two years later, Rice convened a meeting to announce that not only had the deficit been balanced, but the university was holding a record surplus of over $14.5 million. Her work in academia propelled her to great things in the business and political world.
Besides her abundant business ventures, Rice has collaborated on several books, joined many community groups, been given several honorary degrees, and served as a board member in several prestigious organizations. But her political career is where we’ve really seen Rice shine.