Mississippi College

Condoleezza Rice Headlines Mississippi College Scholarship Dinner

April 18, 2012

Condoleezza Rice tackled issues like immigration reform, terrorism, the importance of education and her service to the nation under two presidents.

During her Mississippi College visit Tuesday, the Stanford University professor and best-selling author also ruled out the idea of becoming a Republican prospect for vice president in 2012. And the Alabama native, the first African-American to become U.S. Secretary of State, said she doesn’t want to return to that job that took her to many nations around the world.

Away from a high-profile government post for three years, Rice told nearly 600 guests at MC’s annual scholarship dinner she’s enjoying life as a California professor working with students and doing research.

Rice reads some of America’s newspapers with her coffee every morning in the Silicon Valley, and joked she tells herself “isn’t that interesting” without worrying what needs to be done as a U.S. leader. The former Stanford provost also doesn’t care to move up the academic ladder and become a college president. “I’m back as a professor. This is a superb state in my life.”

But the prominent international relations expert does plenty off the Stanford campus in Palo Alto to promote U.S. education, the arts, Boys & Girls Clubs, and other good causes around the nation.

The guest speaker at MC’s School of Law commencement in 2003 when one of her Alabama relatives graduated, Rice said the Baptist-affiliated institution remains a “very special place” due to its caring law school faculty and Christian focus. The MC professors on the downtown Jackson campus helped ensure that Anitra German received her law degree. “She never would have done it without the compassion of the MC Law School faculty and staff.”

Born with sickle cell anemia, the Mississippi College law graduate died a few years ago.

That was one of the touching moments of Rice’s well-received speech before a packed Anderson Hall, including special guests such as Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant, Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, state Treasurer Lynn Fitch and Mississippi Supreme Court Chief Justice William Waller, Jr.

Since 2008, MC’s spring scholarship dinners have raised more than $1.3 million to help hundreds of academically talented and needy students receive an education on the Clinton campus. Last evening’s program generated a record of  $333,764. Other speakers over the years have included former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, magazine publisher Steve Forbes and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, host of a popular Fox News weekend show.

MC students applauded Rice’s question and answer session in Self Hall prior to the dinner.

“I think it was amazing for her to come to MC to talk to us and inspire us,” said MC senior Camie Crowe of Tupelo. “She’s very knowledgeable – an amazing woman.”

A public relations major, Crowe said she was impressed when Rice urged students to stay positive about their future, despite the nation’s weak economy.

“She had great things to say about students entering the workforce,” Crowe said.

The college experience is the place where students should discover their passion in life and then pursue it in the job market, Rice said.

Rice herself wanted to become a concert pianist as a young girl growing up in Birmingham, Alabama, but discovered her interest in international relations in college. One of her professors, a Soviet specialist, was the father of former U.S. Secretary of State Madeline Albright.

America’s 66th secretary of state and the second woman to hold that position, Rice said next month’s new crop of college graduates may not find the job they want right away.

But they can gain valuable experience and opportunities will open up, Rice said. “Find that first job,” she said. “Don’t worry about the next ten years.”

On other subjects, Rice was asked about the recent unsuccessful North Korean missile launch, the always tense situation in the Middle East, and even a series of sports-related questions. “The North Koreans are dangerous and unpredictable,” the Stanford political science professor said. A big-time sports fan and golfer who recently hit a hole in one, Rice said she admires NFL quarterbacks like Eli Manning of the New York Giants, Peyton Manning of the Denver Broncos and Tim Tebow of the New York Jets.

Faith is a big piece of the core of Condoleezza Rice. Her grandfather is a graduate of Alabama’s Stillman College where he received a scholarship to become a Presbyterian minister. It helped him pay for school when he could only provide for the first year with the earnings from his cotton crop.

Josh Carver of Leland, MC’s new Student Government Association president, left the room impressed with the university’s keynote speaker. “I’ve been a Condoleezza Rice fan forever. She’s really awesome.”

MC political science professor Glenn Antizzo exited her press conference on the Clinton campus very happy when he received Rice’s signature on one of her recent best-selling books. Antizzo is an international relations specialist who’s quoted Rice in some of his books on global issues.

At the scholarship dinner, MC President Lee Royce and Board of Trustees Chairman Roy Ward commended the life of the late trustee Wayne Parker of Jackson. A visionary leader and supporter of numerous activities at the university, including emergency funds for international students and MC’s “Growing the Vision” campaign that reached $87.4 million, Parker left a legacy that will be felt for generations to come. Royce and Ward presented a Board of Trustees resolution to Zeita Parker, the wife of Mississippi College’s cherished friend.


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