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Condaleeza Rice, former U.S. Secretary of State, gets interviewed by Pitt State President Steve Scott, during her visit for H. Lee Scott Speaker Series at Bicknell Thursday, Oct. 3. Rice spoke about her current geopolitical landscapes and her experiences as National Security Advisor and Secretary of State during the event. Courtesy of Sam Clausen and Pittsburg State University

Condoleezza Rice gives lecture at Pitt State

The Bicknell Center is known for incredible performers and interesting speakers, and for speakers in the H. Lee Scott Speaker Series, Condoleezza Rice happens to fit both categories. 

The Bicknell Family Center for the Arts hosted the H. Lee Scott Speaker Series lecture given by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Oct. 3, 2019 at 7:30 p.m. Rice was the 66th Secretary of State and served under former President George W. Bush as the national security advisor. In her lecture, she discussed topics such as the current geopolitical climate, domestic political affairs, and her experience as national security advisor, Secretary of State, and her tenure as a professor of business and political science at Stanford University. 

“You know, the heart of our democracy is at the local level,” Rice said. “National politics is great, but where real change happens is at the city council level, the state government level. I think it’s so important for people, especially young people interested in politics to get involved there…” 

Rice has been involved in politics for many years and is a registered Republican. However, her first political work was a volunteer on the presidential campaign for former President Jimmy Carter. 

“When you volunteer, you’re not going to get to ‘influence’ the candidate like you see on many TV shows; you’ll probably end up doing phone banks or making envelopes..,” Rice said. “Those are just as important as being the candidate. Someone has to make the nuts and bolts work… and that’s how it starts. Eventually, you could become national security advisor.” 

Because of her involvement in politics, former Secretary Rice traveled to Pittsburg with a group of bodyguards and even had university police to assist in her protection. 

“Aside from the armed battalion, politics has given me a greater appreciation for the process,” Rice said. “You see lots of disdain and dislike for politics but being involved in politics, I understand the kind of work that goes into being a public servant. I’ve never held elected office because both of my positions were appointed, but I always saw my work as an extension of the will of the people. I always asked myself, ‘What do the people want?” 

Before her political career, Rice attended the University of Denver, where her father John Wesley Rice was serving as assistant dean, as a music major studying classical piano and even attended the Aspen Music Festival. After her sophomore year, she began to consider a different career path, but she said that music has always been a “driving force” in her life. 

“I love the piano, and I have always loved the piano,” Rice said. “I still practice, because music has taught me three things: Firstly, it’s taught me that you can’t procrastinate… You have to practice a little each day. You can’t cram eight hours of practice in a day before the recital… Secondly, it’s taught me how to deal with nerves. My piano teacher in college always told me to know my pieces 190 percent, because when you get out there to perform and that 100 percent goes out the window, you’ll still have the 90 percent to rely on… Lastly, music is all about cooperation between performers. This is true of politics too. Politics is about coming together for the good of all…” 

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