Ambassador Susan Rice tells grads, ‘Your country needs you.’

National Security Advisor urges students to put their “higher education to a higher purpose”


National Security Advisor Susan Rice delivers the keynote address during the 2016 Spring Commencement ceremony for the Steven J. Green School of International and Public Affairs.

It was clear Ambassador Susan Rice did her homework before coming to FIU to give the 2016 Spring Commencement speech for the Steven J. Green School of International and Public Affairs.

To enthusiastic laughter, the U.S. National Security Advisor promised “Breezeway cookies for everyone’’ if her address ran too long.

She gave a shout-out to the cafecitos from Bustelo that fuel many a late-night study session. She praised the university’s award-winning Model UN team, currently ranked fourth in North America.

But she also had a serious message, urging students to consider a “higher purpose” by pursuing a career in public service – whether to their community, their country or the world.

“Your country needs you,’’ said Rice, one of the longest-serving U.S. ambassadors to the United Nations. “We need the global approach you’ve honed at [the Green School]. We need your smarts, your skills and, yes, the brilliant mosaic of experiences you carry with you.”

“There is no work more rewarding, no field more exhilarating, no way to have a greater impact than public service,’’ she added.

Noting that her mother’s parents emigrated to the United States from Jamaica in 1912 and her father grew up in segregated South Carolina, Rice also spoke about the importance of diverse perspectives in the nation’s foreign policy and security decisions.

“Without tapping into America’s full range of races, religions, ethnicities, language skills, and social and economic experiences, we’re leading in a complex world with one hand tied behind our back,’’ she said.

She urged students to disregard the “loud voices” that disparage diversity.


Ambassador Susan Rice addresses graduates during commencement ceremonies for the Steven J. Green School of International and Public Affairs.

“Shake it off. Ignore the haters. And don’t you dare let them slow you down… Because my parents refused to accept the limits society imposed — and because my grandfather bent over a broom — I stand here as the National Security Advisor to the President of the United States.”

Finally, giving a nod to Miami’s DJ Khaled, Rice presented her own “major keys to success.”

Among them – get out of your comfort zone, travel the world, focus on what stirs your soul, be fearless, be an example and “most importantly,’’ she said, put family first.

“Someone can take your place in a meeting, but nobody can take your place as a loving child or devoted parent.”

Also during the ceremony, President Mark B. Rosenberg and Green School Founding Dean John F. Stack recognized the school’s Worlds Ahead Graduates – decorated Iraqi War veteran Jason Recio, U.S. Army 2nd Lt. Joshua Phillips and Model UN delegate Sarah Castellanos. Read their full stories here.

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