Rice’s speech inspires Spain Park students

Published 11:53 am Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrives at Spain Park High School on the morning of April 18. (Reporter Photo/Jon Goering)

By AMY JONES / Associate Editor

HOOVER — During this school year, Spain Park students read former Secretary of State Dr. Condoleezza Rice’s memoir “Extraordinary, Ordinary People.” On April 18, those same students got to hear some of the book’s lessons from the author herself.

Rice, a Birmingham native, came back home to speak to the Spain Park student body, sharing life lessons from her own experiences.

She said the United States as a country must continue to advocate for the rights of all people, as it has done throughout history.

“Never forget that freedom is not free,” she said.

Rice shared stories about her time at Stanford and finding her way into politics, and encouraged students to use this time of their lives to try new things and find their passions.

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice addresses the gymnasium full of SPHS students during a speech at the school on April 18. (Reporter Photo/Jon Goering)

“Once you’ve found your passion, life has a way of working out just fine,” she said. “Try something that’s not easy for you. Find somebody — a mentor, a teacher — who cares about you.”

Rice also cautioned students to look beyond the obvious when choosing those mentors.

“You do not have to have role models and mentors who look like you,” she said.

Rice encouraged students to volunteer and work with the needy to learn humility.

“I don’t want you to ever feel entitled to what you have,” she said.

Two Spain Park students, junior Haven Eddy and senior Kathryn Boswell, said they gained perspective upon reading Rice’s book, especially praising her drive to succeed. Both said hearing Rice speak provided essential life lessons.

“Especially with her being from the Birmingham area, it shows that even if you are from a rural area, you can still make it big and there are possibilities out there for you,” Eddy said.

Boswell said Rice has provided her with a road map for her future.

“I really kind of look up to her because I want to do exactly what she’s done,” said Boswell, who aspires to a career in politics and government. “It’s inspiring to have her here.”

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice speaks with the SPHS faculty in the lunchroom of the high school on April 18. (Reporter Photo/Jon Goering)