May 022010
 
Authors: Jordyn Dahl

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell encouraged attendees of his lecture Friday night in Moby Arena to remain optimistic in where the United States is going despite negative sentiments about both the recession and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

He said President Barack Obama has been following the plans put in place during the Bush administration and said he supports Obama’s actions. Although there have been drops in global public opinion regarding the United States, Powell said America is still the leading nation of the world and said other countries still look to it as an example of a democratic nation.

“America remains a global leader. Coming out of the recession, the president has stabilized the financial system and the economy is turning around,” he said in an interview with media prior to his speech. “Don’t let these problems outweigh the greatness that still exists in the world. We are still the land of hopes and dreams and opportunity.”

Powell shared this sentiment and others to a crowd of about 8,000 students and community members that attended. He was brought in as the keynote speaker for the grand opening of the College of Business’s Rockwell Hall-West.

While the leader is confident in the nation as a world power, he said the United States needs to focus on problems within, specifically the high dropout rate of our youth, which is highest amongst minorities and under-privileged students.

“This is criminal and atrocious,” he said.

It’s not just America’s students who are suffering either, Powell said. When the nation cracked down its security on immigrants, it significantly decreased the amount of students from other nations coming into the country wishing to get an American education.

Powell encouraged those who attended to not let terrorism take away the very thing that makes the United States great.

“We want foreign students to come in,” he said. “The one thing no terrorist can do is change what we are and who are: a nation that touches every nation and that is our greatest strength.”

Powell also gave advice to CSU graduates on what it takes to become a great leader. A leader, he said, is someone who inspires, motivates, has integrity and is willing to sacrifice their own well being for the well being of their organization.

“Great leaders motivate people; you want your people to be inspired. Inspiration means they are so motivated they act on their own because they believe in their purpose,” Powell said. “You have to be inspired yourself. You have to have passion for the organization yourself.”

The night came to a close with a question-and-answer session by four students from the College of Business and finally with CSU President Tony Frank offering Powell two departing gifts from the university: CSUnity T-shirts for Powell and every member of his family and a promise from the students of CSU who are obtaining their degrees that they will work to make the world a better place.

“This is the best gift you could give me,” he said.

Staff writer Jordyn Dahl can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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