Spoken about as the most influential woman in global politics, Condoleezza Rice was secretary of state to U.S. president George W. Bush.
Condi, as she was fondly called by her friends, was born in 1954 on November 14 in Birmingham, Alabama. She was an only child. Her father John Wesley Rice, was a Presbyterian minister and dean and her mother, Angelena Rice, a high school teacher. Condoleezza Rice went to St. Mary’s Academy, which was an all-girls catholic high school.
She believed that her interest- and career choice in politics came from her family’s political discussions they had when she was growing up.
Condoleezza Rice Facts
1. A Youth filled with Achievements
Education and academic achievement were important to her parents and they kept telling their young daughter her that she could do anything she set her mind to. She was a go-getter from an early age, taking piano lessons at the age of 3. She learned how to play the classical music of Beethoven and Bach.
While Rice never actually became a concert pianist, she continues to play music. It was in 2002 that she performed at the National Medal of Arts Award where she accompanied Yo-Yo Ma at Constitution Hall. Later on she also took up figure skating.
Condoleezza Rice also learned Spanish and French and was just 11 years of age when she started the 8th grade, an interesting fact about Condoleezza Rice. Her family had moved to Alabama and later settled in Colorado where she attended a public school. The smart young Condi skipped two grades – the 1st and 7th – and graduated from high school at the young age of 15.
When Rice entered the University of Denver, she first studied piano, but it was that interest in politics from her early days that saw her switching to political science. She was 19 when she graduated. Later on she even returned to the University of Denver to study international studies, earning a doctorate degree.
2. Condoleezza Rice at Home
Condoleezza Rice was shown how to be confident by her parents and not to stand back for anyone. She loves being stylish, wearing suits by Giorgio Amani, an Italian designer and lipstick from Yves Saint Laurent. Vogue magazine has photographed her, but always in her own clothes and jewelry. In her spare time she loves shopping and also watching sport. She became the first woman to become a member of the Augusta National Golf Club in 2012.
Condoleezza Rice lives in Washington. Every day she gets up at 5 a.m. Her mother and father have both passed away now. Rice is still close to George W. Bush and his wife, Laura. She loves watching football as well as televised sport with President Bush. In fact she often thinks about her dream job – being commissioner of the National Football League.
3. A High Level of Academic Expertise – a Doctorate
Once Condoleezza Rice graduated from the University of Denver, she then enrolled at Notre Dame University in Indiana, earning herself a master’s degree in government- and international studies.
Rice got herself a doctorate in 1981 and she was offered a fellowship at Stanford University – something quite extraordinary for a woman at that time, an interesting fact about Condoleezza Rice. The next year she was teaching political science. She became a professor at the university in 1987 and was making a name for herself in U.S. foreign policies.
It was during this time at Stanford that the spent some time in Washington D.C. Brent Scowcroft, National Security Advisor, was impressed by Rice. In 1989 he asked her to be his Soviet expert on the United States Security Council.
4. Special assistant to President Bush
She became President Bush’s special assistant and expert on Soviet and East European affairs. Her personal life suffered with the expectations of the White House and she resigned in 1991. She was a Democrat until 1982, changing to Republican after not agreeing with the foreign policy of President Jimmy Carter.
5. Bush puts his Trust and confidence in Rice
But Rice tired of the toll the White House job took on her personal life, and she resigned in 1991, going back to teaching at Stanford, and becoming head of Stanford, the first female to do so. All the while Rice maintained a friendly relationship with the Bush family.
In 2000 George W. Bush wanted to win the Republican Party’s nomination as its presidential candidate, hiring Rice to lead his foreign policy advisers. Bush won his party’s nomination.
Becoming the National Security Advisor and being the first woman in such a position, Rice became known as the ‘Warrior Princess’, an interesting fact about Condoleezza Rice. She was also the nation’s first African America woman to serve as U.S. Secretary of State. She came up with the idea of ‘Transformational Diplomacy’ where American diplomats would operate in areas where there was both social and political trouble.
6. Rice and the World Trade Center
Part of Condoleezza’s duties included combatting threats to America, and when the September 11 terrorist attacks struck the World Trade Center on Tuesday morning of September 11, 2001, she was in a meeting at the White House. With other key staff, Rice took refuge in the ‘Situation Room’ an underground bunker.
7. Testifying at the 9/11 Commission
Rice worked harder than ever on U.S. foreign policies, creating a new policy to deal with Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. It was in 2004 that she had to testify before a special panel to investigate the 9/11 attacks and whether they could have been prevented. She was secretary of state from 2005 to 2009, after a senate vote of 85-13.
8. The Author
Signing a deal with Crown Publishing in 2009 to write 3 books, Condoleezza Rice signed a deal with Crown Publishing. One of them was a memoir about her time in the George W. Bush administration.
9. A person of great Influence
Condoleezza Rice was named as one of the world’s most influential people by Time Magazine, a fun fact about Condoleezza Rice. She never married and never had any children.
When Rice reflects on her career, an unforgettable aspect in the September 11th terrorist attacks. As national security advisor to President Bush, she doesn’t stop thinking about what could have been done differently to prevent the attacks.
Politicians receive plenty of criticism from the public and from within their ranks. Condoleezza Rice has been one of the few people within the Bush administration who has emerged somewhat unscathed by all the criticism, allowing her to stay on in her job without scandal.
Yes, there have been calls to have her removed or to have her expertise channeled elsewhere but today, because she managed to achieve a position in ‘high places’, she is to be admired.
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