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Another First for Condoleezza Rice

For the first time in its 56-year history, the Sylvanus Thayer Award will be presented to a female recipient for a second year in a row. Condoleezza Rice will Dr. Condoleeza Ricereceive the award on October 6, 2014, while the Honorable Madeleine K. Albright received it in 2013. Interestingly, this is not the only distinction these recipients share. Of course both served as U.S. Secretary of State, but not so known is the fact that Albright’s father, Josef Korbel, taught Rice political science as an undergrad at the University of Denver and reportedly sparked her interested in international relations. Rice went on to receive a doctorate in political science from the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver and became known as an expert on the former Soviet Union.

In 1981, Rice became a professor of political science at Stanford University, where she caught the attention of Brent Scowcroft ’47 at a 1985 meeting of arms control experts. Four years later, Scowcroft asked Rice to become his Soviet expert when he became President George H.W. Bush’s National Security Adviser. Rice would later become National Security Advisor herself to President George W. Bush in 2000, the first woman to hold this post. Making such history was nothing new to Rice. In 1993, she was the first woman, the first African American, and the youngest person ever appointed Provost of Stanford University. Later she would become the first African-American woman to serve as Secretary of State, during which she championed the expansion of democratic governments and set the record for most miles logged in the position while conducting diplomatic efforts. Rice returned to Stanford as a political science professor in 2009 and is currently a professor of Political Economy in the Graduate School of Business and the Thomas and Barbara Stephenson Senior Fellow on Public Policy at the Hoover Institution at Stanford. She also serves on the boards of the George W. Bush institute, the Commonwealth Club, the Aspen Institute, and the Boys and Girls Clubs of America.

Since 1958, the West Point Association of Graduates has presented the Sylvanus Thayer Award to an outstanding citizen of the United States, other than a West Point graduate, whose service and accomplishments in the national interest exemplify personal devotion to the ideals expressed in the West Point motto: Duty, Honor, Country. Condoleezza Rice’s lifetime of ongoing achievements certainly merits this honor.