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Former ambassador has inspiring message for young people

Anything is possible when we come together rather than tearing each other apart. And it has never been more important for all generations, especially youth, to understand our common threats and opportunities.

That is just one of the points made by Susan E. Rice when she spoke at the University at Buffalo on Feb. 28 as part of the UB Distinguished Speaker Series.

Rice came to UB to share her experiences as a former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and as National Security Advisor. Not only did Rice talk about her extensive work in national security and foreign affairs, she discussed her perspective on issues plaguing the United States and the world today.

Rice’s unique perspective, gained from working with different presidents, can help the public, specifically young minds, understand the challenges of dealing with national security threats.

She established the importance of following the principles on which the United States was founded, regretfully noting America’s current failure to follow such principles. "We have for too long tolerated an enormous gap between our founding principles and our actions," Rice said.

She continued by emphasizing that following such principles would ensure equal pay for women, create better background checks, protect our voting system and invest in science, among many other things.

Further, Rice did not shy away from discussing some of the heaviest threats of today – North Korea’s increasing nuclear arsenal, pandemic flu, and Russia’s meddling into the 2016 presidential election.

Rice explained that Russia has demonstrated their determination to undermine our democracy.

She said that Americans are contributing to Russia’s attempt to weaken our democracy because of the extensive division in the United States.

"We are becoming incapable of sustaining and supporting our democracy," Rice said.

By tearing each other apart, Americans are weakening the power of compromise, which, in turn, weakens democracy.

But Rice has hope for the future, explaining that the United States needs the knowledge and success of America’s youth now more than ever.

As for young people looking to go into international affairs, Rice said that travelling is very important and the Peace Corps is one great way of getting this experience.

Rice’s most poignant piece of advice for young people was to pick work that you are passionate and excited about.

It is OK not knowing what you are passionate about in high school, however. In fact, Rice was not sure of her future career until she attended graduate school.

"It really wasn’t until I had the opportunity to have my first formal job in national security when I was 28 with the National Security Council staff that I really knew that this was something I was keen to pursue," Rice said.

She went on to explain the importance for young people to vote, as well. According to Rice, America’s youth needs to understand that they don’t get to take a pass on the issues of today.

She enforced the importance of young adults voting in all elections.

"When young people vote, it makes a difference. When they don’t vote, it makes a difference," she said.

Sarah Crawford is a sophomore at Nardin Academy.


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