Condoleezza Rice was 3 years old when she first learned to read music. Her ultimate dream when she entered the University of Denver as a performing arts major was to play piano in Carnegie Hall.
But, for the former of Secretary of State, this dream was never realized, and during her junior year of college she found another passion: foreign affairs.
â€œAnd when I found myself standing on the White House Lawn in 1989 with Mikhail Gorbachev and his wife, I knew that I made the right choice,â€ Rice said, addressing a packed crowd in Moby Arena on Tuesday night.
The process of finding passion and searching for a purpose was the overarching theme of Riceâ€™s lecture, which was sponsored by the Monfort Foundation and sold out its 8,000 available tickets a week in advance.
â€œShe had a very good viewpoint on a current situations,â€ said Thomas Nash, a senior business major who attended the lecture. â€œShe had something to say that wasreally important to this generation, and it was interesting to get the perspective of and see humanized someone who you see on the news.â€
CSU President Tony Frank, who introduced Rice and moderated an audience-submitted Q&A session following her lecture and spent the day with Rice and members of the Monfort family, said that being able to personally meet the former diplomat â€œreally speaks for the benefits of this job.â€
In addition to asking Rice audience-submitted questions, he also made it a point to discuss with Rice higher education funding shortfalls and her recommendations for fixing them at a national level.
â€œThe issue here is that we arenâ€™t able to have an honest conversation about entitlements,â€ Rice said. â€œWe are spending way too much money on entitlement programs for our past generations, which are having a serious impact on issues that have direct implications for future generations.â€
Rice also touched on the turmoil in the Middle East and the legacy of the Bush administration, two topics that audience members said attracted them to the event.
â€œTodayâ€™s headlines and tomorrowâ€™s judgment are rarely the same,â€ Rice said, summing up her mindset when it comes to making foreign policy decisions.
When asked about the current turmoil in the Middle East, Rice said she believes the Bush administration played a substantial role in spreading American ideals of freedom and democracy to the Middle East, claiming that these ideals provide a necessary foil to the otherwise radical ideologies that have come to pervade the region.
â€œIn foreign policy, you notice that itâ€™s not the powerful countries that are a danger, but the weak, failed states,â€ she said. â€œNo one should have to live in tyranny, and since we have the privilege not to, we have the moral obligation to make sure that we eliminate tyranny elsewhere.â€
Riceâ€™s strongest opinions werenâ€™t just on hard-hitting foreign policy, but also on far more domestic issues, particularly K-12 education, an issue she said the U.S. needs to reprioritize and reconsider if it wants to stay true to its ideology.
â€œI can look at a personâ€™s zip code and know right away if they are getting a good education,â€ Rice said. â€œThatâ€™s not the way it should be.â€
Stephanie Corder, a senior art major, was one of the students whose question was chosen for the Q&A session, which integrated submissions from Facebook, Twitter, email and a submission box at the event. Tony Frankâ€™s staff chose the best.
â€œMy heart just stopped,â€ Corder said. â€œI was so surprised. It was so cool to see Condoleezza Rice answer one of my questions.â€
Corderâ€™s question, which concerned whether or not Rice intended to run for office in the future, elicited a very strong response from the former Secretary of State, who said that she had no intention whatsoever of ever running for office, stating that she was perfectly content to continue working as a political science professor at Stanford University.
â€œI will be a professor at Stanford as long as they let me,â€ Rice said. â€œAnd since Iâ€™m tenured â€¦ well, thatâ€™s however long I want it to be.â€
News Editor Allison Sylte can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.