In the annals of American History, Condoleezza Rice will be duly distinguished as the first female Secretary of State to the United States, serving her country at a time of heightened geopolitical strain. She was initially appointed National Security Advisor to President George W. Bush at the outset of his administration in 2001. In her time in Washington, she became one of the central figures in American foreign policy post-September 11, 2001, including the controversial “War on Terror” and the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

While she rose to the highest position of U.S. foreign affairs as a through line to previous conservative diplomats, such as James Baker and Henry Kissinger, she distinguished herself through an unparalleled work ethic and a wealth of knowledge in international strategy. Although Rice is best recognized as a glass-ceiling-breaking stateswoman, she has otherwise dedicated her life to academia, a sector she returned to after leaving national politics and diplomacy.

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In 1971, a young Rice enrolled at the University of Denver, where her father served as assistant dean, initially pursuing music performance (she is a lifelong pianist) before international affairs caught her eye. After attaining her Bachelor of Arts degree in political science, she sought to enhance her education by enrolling in the esteemed University of Notre Dame, where she obtained a Master of Arts degree in government and international studies, focusing on U.S./Soviet Union relations.

Rice later returned to Denver and earned her PhD, before entering a career in higher education via Stanford University in California. She attained success and accolades at Stanford, becoming a specialist in arms control and disarmament, and an expert in the struggling Soviet Union. She soon returned to Notre Dame as a member of the Board of Trustees, only leaving when she was called to serve in the Bush Cabinet. She remained a key figure in the administration throughout the 43rd President’s term, paving the way for future women and BIPOC.

Since leaving public service, Rice has returned to academia where she is dedicated to promoting international peace and prosperity for the next generation. She is currently the Denning Professor in Global Business and the Economy at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, where she has returned to teaching political science.

Although she has become a fixture at Stanford, she retains a close connection to Notre Dame. In 2019, she returned to South Bend to lead an academic discourse on global affairs with student members of the Notre Dame International Security Center, where she urged them to remain resilient in pursuing their goals in public service, reminding them that she only achieved her own success after experiencing failure.