By KATHRYN ACREE
With an opening exclamation of “Go Jags!”, former U.S. Secretary of State and Birmingham native Dr. Condoleezza Rice spoke today to the student body of Spain Park High School.
Rice made the appearance as part of the school’s Big Read Project. Spain Park students have been reading Rice’s book, Extraordinary, Ordinary People: A Memoir of Family, over the last year. The Daniel Foundation of Alabama donated a copy of the book to every student and faculty member at SPHS.
After being introduced by Spain Park Principal Dr. Ken Jarnagin and Birmingham City Councilor Carole Smitherman, Rice spoke to the students and answered questions during a Q & A session.
Rice shared that as a young girl, she’d planned to become a concert pianist. Her plans changed when she was inspired by a college professor to pursue Russian studies. Her choice would ultimately lead to her high-profile career in Washington, D.C. and as a Stanford professor.
She spoke on preparing while in school for a life of “excellence, a life of promise and a life of enjoyment.”
Rice encouraged students to find and pursue their passion. “Find what you love to do,” Rice said. “Once you’ve found your passion, life has a way of working out just fine.”
Rice challenged students to try something they considered hard to do. She encouraged staying in shape physically and to not always surround themselves with people who think exactly like they do. “There are a lot of people who are just as smart as you are, who are just as good as you are, who will never have the opportunities that you [as students] have,” she said. “Never take those opportunities for granted, never feel entitled.”