November 14, 1954
The only child of educators, Condoleezza Rice was born on this day in 1954. She spent a relatively sheltered childhood in Birmingham, a city known for the violent suppression of any moves toward racial integration. Rice started playing piano at age 3 and thrived as a student. The family relocated to Denver in 1968 and at age 15 Rice entered the University of Denver. She considered studying to become a concert pianist, but instead focused on international relations, receiving a master’s degree in economics from the University of Notre Dame and a doctorate in international studies from the University of Denver. An expert in central Europe and Russia, Rice joined the faculty at Stanford University and later served in the Reagan Administration as an assistant to the Joint Chiefs of Staff and in the George H.W. Bush administration as director for Soviet and eastern European Affairs at the National Security Council. She returned to Stanford as provost but in 1998 joined the presidential campaign of George W. Bush as foreign policy adviser. Following his election, Bush named Rice his national security adviser. She was the first woman to hold the post and served during the critical days following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. In January 2005, Rice became the 66th secretary of state, following the resignation of Colin Powell – the second woman and first African-American woman to be confirmed as the nation’s top diplomat. She served until 2009. Rice returned to Palo Alto, California, where she is the Denning Professor in Global Business and the Economy at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. She is also a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, a conservative think tank, and author of numerous books, including two memoirs. She travels back to Birmingham occasionally; a golfer, she is a member of the Shoal Creek Club in Shelby County.
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