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Condoleeza Rice

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Earlier this month, I was having dinner with my 12-year old sister while watching TV. We were tuned in to CNN, since I wanted to know who made it to the NBA playoffs. As I went to the kitchen to prepare some desserts, my sister suddenly asked Hey, whos this African-American woman on TV? Why is she the center of attraction in this meeting? Why does everybody want to talk to her? Id like to have that kind of attention someday!

Curious, I checked out whom she was referring to. I told her Honey, thats Condoleeza Rice, the National Security Advisor. She is one of our Presidents closest friends. Right now, she is defending the administrations anti-terrorism policies before the 9/11 commission.

I didnt elaborate further, so as not to confuse her young mind about the controversies of politics. Still, I saw the interested look in her eye, beguiled that an African-American woman could hold such an esteemed government position. She said You know in our class, I am the only black student. Our teachers dont have favorites, but Im not really popular with my classmates. Someday, I want to be like - whats her name again?

Condoleeza Rice. Condi for short I replied with a smile.

Condi. Right. So whats her story? How did she end up as an official in the White House?

Good thing I am a political science major, or I wouldnt have been able to satisfy her inquisitive mind.

So, I proceeded to tell her about Rices story. Condi was born in Alabama, on November 14, 1954, the year when school segregation, or separation of black and white students, was outlawed. She is an only child. Her parents, Angelina and John, were university professors. At an early age, she witnessed the cruelty of racism, seeing her schoolmate die of a bombing caused by white supremacists. The experience helped mold her to become what she is now.

My sister said, Geez, that must have been terrible for her. If I were in her shoes, I would have been disillusioned by the grim reality.

Yes, it was. But that motivated her to prove that ones color is not a measure of ones capabilities and should never be a basis for segregation.

So what did she take up in college?

Initially, Condi wanted to take music classes, aspiring to be a concert pianist. In fact, her name resembles an Italian musical term. But that dream was set aside when she heard the lectures of Josef Korbel on international politics. With a newly-developed interest in politics and international relations, she pursued political science, graduating with honors from the University of Denver in 1974.

Oh I see. So she entered politics right after graduation?

Not quite! She took up her masters degree at the University of Notre Dame in 1975, and earned her Ph.D. from the University of Notre Dames Graduate School of International Studies in 1981.

Impressive. So if someone lives and breathes Political Science, thats Condi! Hows that for a well-educated African-American, let alone, a woman. So she never got tired of studying the course?

Hehe! Learning is a constant process dear. Higher studies had prepared her to be an educator at Stanford University in 1981.Of course, she taught Political Science and was even bestowed with the highest teaching honors. She also held central authority as Stanfords Provost for six years, from 1993-1999. She has also been honored by other educational institutions like the Hoover Institution, Morehouse College, the University of Alabama, and the Mississippi College School of Law.

Hold on. Whats a provost?

Sorry. A provost is also considered a senior administrator. She managed the school budget and Stanfords Academic Programs, which encompassed 1,400 teachers and 14,000 students.

Oh, thats a tough test for a leader.

At this point, her face showed how overwhelmed she was. And I had not even touched on Condis political career yet.

I paused for a while, took a glass of water, and continued with my lecture.

Naturally, a person who has taken a deep-seated interest in politics and global relations would surely get involved in the field one way or another. From 1989 to 1991, she became part of the National Security Council of George H.W. Bush, acting as director of Soviet East European Affairs. Her term coincided with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Soviet Union

Eep! Berlin Wall? Soviet Union?

I forgot she was only twelve, unaware of the Cold War. So I simply explained Soviet Union was a group of socialist republics, and Condi has written a great deal about their defense policies. The Berlin Wall divided East and West Germany, which had different forms of government. Condi was a big help in the reunification of Germany as we know today.

I see. The President must be really impressed with her.

He was! President Bush credits everything he knows about the Soviet Union to Condi. She also served as the Special Assistant to the Director to the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1986, and was a member of the Federal Advisory Committee on Gender-Integrated Training in the Military in 1997.

Hmm, thats a lot of government experience. So right now, she is the National Security Advisor, correct?

Hey, you remembered! I thought youd forget after all the positions I mentioned. Thats right. She plays a big role in Americas foreign policies, and advises the President about national security

Wow, imagine the president taking advice from an African-American woman?

And why not? Condi is a very smart woman who has all the credentials and qualifications to act in this capacity.

Im completely sold! If theres someone I want to be, I want to be like Condi.

My sister watched earnestly, so I left her for a while to wash the dishes. While doing the chores, I heard another question.

Hey! Condi just said the President is tired of swatting flies! Who are these flies?



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