Condoleezza Rice, to date, is one of the most powerful and unique women in the history of United States politics. However, her many victories didn’t come without hard work and dedication. Rice came from extremely humble beginnings and rose through the ranks in the nation’s Capitol to become the first Black woman to serve as U.S. Secretary of State (she was the country’s 66th).
Rice grew up in Birmingham, Alabama in the 50s and 60s—not too far from the jailhouse where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was once a prisoner. Despite being surrounded by racism in the segregated south and a divided nation, Rice’s parents, both teachers, instilled in her that she could be anything she wanted. This advice was taken to heart.
She earned her bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Denver in 1974, obtained her master’s from the University of Notre Dame in 1975 and earned her Ph.D. from the University of Denver’s Graduate School of International Studies in 1981. That same year, she began teaching at Stanford University as a political science professor—a position that she has held for more than 30 years.