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Condoleezza Rice's Biography
American government aide who became President George W. Bush’s National Security Advisor on January 22, 2001. Intelligent, articulate, self-confident, and attractive, she is the first woman and second African-American to hold that position. She was chosen by Bush to brief him on international affairs during his campaign. As his respected advisor, she briefs him on the world situation each morning and is at his elbow with foreign leaders. She has a reputation for making things happen with tenacity and charm. After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, she became highly visible to the public, often briefing the press and appearing in the media. She has been quick to defend President Bush and the administration’s decisions and actions. When called to testify under oath before the 9/11 commission, she initially refused, citing precedent and advice from White House Counsel. However, when she appeared on several radio and TV news programs, pundits raised an outcry that her refusal to take an oath must mean that she has information to hide. Under public pressure, President Bush announced on March 30, 2004 that she would testify under oath. She was sworn in before the commission at 9:06 AM EDT on April 8, 2004 in Washington, DC.
Rice is the great-grand-daughter of slaves but carries proudly the family legacy of hard work and achievement, with no excuses for the societal ill of racial prejudice. Her grandfather managed to attend college and become a minister, setting the tone for her family’s powerful faith, self-reliance and drive to learn. The only child of teachers, she grew up in the segregated South, witnessing bigotry and violence. In fact, one of her young school chums was killed in a church bombing. Still, Rice thrived under the tutelage of her parents who gave her all the attention they could while they tended to their own continuing education. She affectionately describes her parents as “education evangelists.” Together they inspired her love for learning, her strong religious faith, and a desire to contribute to society. Her father stimulated her interest in sports, particularly football. She is so passionate about the game that she has indicated she would love to be football commissioner when she retires from public service.
From her mother, she developed an early love for music and began playing piano at age three and listening to opera at age six. In fact, her name is derived from the musical term “con dolcezza,” with sweetness. At age 10 she enrolled in the Birmingham Southern Conservatory of Music with an intention to become a professional pianist. She studied ballet, French, flute and violin and read serious literature as well. The family moved to Denver in mid-1969 so that her father could take a position with the University, and she was enrolled in a private Catholic school. In addition to continuing her music studies, she took up tennis and figure skating, and competed in each sport. A gifted and disciplined student, who believed she had to be twice-as-good as everyone else, she graduated from high school in 1971. In her senior year, just 15 years old, she began to take college classes at the nearby University of Denver and graduated with honors at the age of 19. Coming to the realization that a music career was not for her, she changed her major to political science in her junior year when she took a class with Josef Korbel entitled “Introduction to International Politics.” Rice became hooked on Russian affairs, learning the language and becoming an expert on everything to do with the Soviet Union. Korbel, Madeleine Albright’s father, became her mentor and friend and influenced her career choice to teach at the university level. In order to fulfill that dream, Rice obtained her master’s at the University of Notre Dame in 1975 and her Ph.D. in 1981 from the University of Denver.
At age 26, she began teaching at Stanford University and was promoted several times, ultimately becoming Provost. Her expertise captured the attention of Brent Scowcroft, National Security Advisor to President George H.W. Bush. She was recruited to work for the administration in 1989 as the expert in Eastern European and Soviet affairs. The senior Bush was so impressed with her that he introduced her to Mikhail Gorbachev by saying, “This is Condoleezza Rice. She tells me everything I know about the Soviet Union.” In December 2000, the younger Bush appointed her his National Security Advisor and she was sworn in to the office on January 22, 2001.
Her mother died of breast cancer in August 1985 and her father passed away on Christmas Eve, 2000. She has never married though she was reportedly once engaged to a professional football player. The author of three political science books, she has received numerous awards and honors for her achievements and has been elected to several Boards of Directors, including the University of Notre Dame and Chevron (an oil company), a seat from which she resigned in January 2001. Giving back to the community, she co-founded The Center for a New Generation in California designed to help disadvantaged youngsters in their educational and life pursuits.
On November 16, 2004.President George W. Bush nominated Rice to be his second-term Secretary of State, replacing Colin Powell. On Friday, November 19, 2004 she underwent surgery to alleviate symptoms of benign fibroid tumors. The relatively new procedure is called uterine fibroid embolization.
On January 26, 2005, Rice was confirmed as Secretary of State for George Bush’s second term. She is the first Black woman to hold that position. Rice took her oath of office twice, first in a private ceremony on the evening of the 26th with Andrew Card officiating and second on January 28 in a public ceremony.
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