Condoleezza Rice has earned distinction as a scholar, expert on international politics, and with her appointments as the first African American woman National Security Advisor and Secretary of State of the United States.
Rice was born on November 14, 1954 in Birmingham, Alabama to John Wesley Rice, Jr., a Presbyterian minister and school counselor and Angelena (Ray) Rice, a public school teacher. Influenced heavily by her parents, Rice, their only child, showed an exceptional intelligence and scholastic focus at a very early age. Despite growing up in the black middle-class neighborhood of Titusville in Birmingham, Condoleezza and her family could not escape the “Jim Crow” policies of that city. Denise McNair, one of four young girls who died in the 16th St. Baptist Church Bombing in September 1963, was Rice’s childhood friend and playmate.
The Rice family moved to Denver, Colorado in 1967 when Rev. Rice accepted an administrative position at the University of Denver. Two years later at the age of 15, Condoleezza entered college at the University of Denver with the intention of majoring in concert piano. She soon changed her mind and her academic direction after taking an International Politics course from Josef Korbel, father of future United States Secretary of State Madeline Albright. Young Rice became fascinated with Russian politics and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science at the age of 19. By 20, she had a Master’s Degree from The University of Notre Dame, and by 26 she had returned to the Graduate School of International Studies at the University of Denver to earn her Ph.D. with both advanced degrees in Political Science.
After earning her Ph.D., Rice became a professor of Political Science at Stanford University and later became a fellow at the prestigious Hoover Institute on that campus. Drawing off her expertise in Russian politics, Rice became increasingly involved in the Federal government, serving as a Special Assistant to the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1986, and