Former secretary of state offers inspiration to Bishop’s students


By Pat Sherman

Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice offered words of inspiration and encouragement to students at the Bishop’s School on Jan. 19, during the school’s Endowed Leadership Lecture Series assembly. The annual event brings to the school individuals whose leadership achievements make them role models for Bishop’s students.

Rice, who currently serves as a faculty member with the Stanford Graduate School of Business, encouraged students not to coast along with a sense of entitlement.

“There are many, many people just as smart, just as intelligent, just as capable, who will never get the chances and the opportunities that you’re getting,” Rice said. “It’s a privilege to get a great education. Never take it for granted.

“Look around you. Look at people on the wrong site of the tracks in San Diego. Look at people on the wrong side of the world, who don’t have the privilege of living in the United States, and you will suddenly say to yourself, not, why do I not have more? But, why do I have so much?”

Rice also encouraged students to seek out mentors during their college years.

“We all need somebody to help us along,” Rice said. “Those of you who are about to go off to college, here’s a little trick. ... There’s going to be a faculty member who’s really interesting to you, not because they were assigned to you, but because you like what they’re teaching. You’re going to read something that they wrote. Then you’re going to make an appointment with them and you’re going to say, ‘I read something that you wrote.’

“Faculty are really vain,” Rice said. “You’re going to have their attention, and that person might become a mentor.”

Following her presentation, Rice fielded questions from students.

In regard to the Bush Administration’s decision to enter into war with Iraq, sophomore Hanna Bourne asked, “Knowing what you know now, is there anything you would have done differently?”

“There is a maxim: ‘What you know today can affect what you do tomorrow, but not what you did yesterday,’” and we thought we had stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction,” Rice said. “I would overthrow (Saddam Hussein) again. I would do it probably in the way that we did it, but I would do the reconstruction differently.

“Where we really didn’t succeed was in quelling the violence in Iraq among the insurgents. We probably didn’t have enough troops on the ground. ... We put too much focus on Baghdad, and not enough focus on what was a very big country. And we didn’t really know how to work with the tribes.

“Yes, there several things that I would do differently,” Rice added, “but the one thing I would not do differently? I would not leave Saddam Hussein in power.”

To read the full story about Dr. Rice’s visit to La Jolla, pick up the Jan. 26 issue of the La Jolla Light.