Condoleezza Rice was born on November 14, 1954. In 1974, at age 19, she graduated from the University of Denver with a BA in political science and got her masters in political science from the University of Notre Dame in 1975. After working in the State Department during the Carter Administration, she went back to the University of Denver and earned her PhD in political science in 1981. In 1981, Rice became an assistant professor of political science at Stanford, rising through the ranks to become an associate professor in 1987. In 1993, she was given tenure as a full Professor and was appointed Provost, Stanford s chief budget and academic officer. She served in this position until she accepted the position of National Security Advisor under President George W. Bush. Rice was active in politics and foreign policy while pursuing her academic career. In 1982, in response to her dissatisfaction with Carter s foreign policy, Rice registered as a Republican. Even though she was registered as a Republican, she served as foreign policy advisor to Gary Hart during his 1984 presidential campaign. In 1985, she attracted the attention of Brent Scowcroft, who asked her to become his Soviet expert on the National Security Council in 1989 when he took the job of National Security Advisor under President George H.W. Bush. It was a natural fit that Rice was asked to become President George W. Bush s National Security Advisor in 2000. She was an instrumental part of the team that crafted the U.S. response to 9/11 and set up the Homeland Security department. She was also an intermediary between the White House and the CIA on many issues, including the waterboarding of alleged terrorist prisoners. She has claimed that she did not personally condone torture techniques, but was merely the messenger that gave the CIA the White House s approval, subject to clearance from the Justice Department. There is doubt about that stance, but no definitive proof otherwise. After the 2004 elections, it was announced that Secretary of State Colin Powell had decided to step down and that Rice was being appointed to take his place. This made her the first African-American female to serve in the position. As Secretary, Rice was committed to the expansion of democracy as part of her policy of Transformational Diplomacy, particularly in the Middle East. In her mind, the oppressive conditions there were a root cause of the 9/11 attacks and widespread democratic rule would help to prevent such attacks in the future. This policy met with criticism and derision from other nations, who accused the U.S. of arrogance in foreign policy. Relations with many foreign states became strained during this time. As the race for President George W. Bush s successor heated up in 2008, there was speculation that Rice might be tapped for the Republican VP nomination, despite the strong ties between her and Bush. Rice herself played down any speculation about her interest in the role, saying that she has never seen herself running for elected office in the U.S. She returned to Stanford as a professor of political science in March of 2009. Whether she will give in to the lure of a 2012 presidential run remains to be seen, but her record of public service shows her willingness to step in and serve when the public needs her.