Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright spoke Thursday at the 16th annual George A. Andrews Distinguished Speaker Address. Albright spoke in front of a packed house of Principia College students, faculty and guests at Cox Auditorium in Elsah.
Dr. Madeleine Albright’s reputation precedes her.
From 1997 to 2001 she was the first female Secretary of State and the highest-ranking female government official up to that point. She broke down barriers for women in U.S. politics, ushering in our current political climate where men and women compete politically on an open playing field.
Thursday, at the 16th annual George A. Andrews Distinguished Speaker Address, Albright spoke in front of a packed house of Principia College students, faculty and guests at Cox Auditorium in Elsah.
One could go on for days listing Albright’s accolades and talents: Fluent in seven languages, worked from 1993-97 as US Permanent Representative to the United Nations, was member of President Bill Clinton’s Cabinet — the list goes on and on.
She was awarded the U.S. Medal of Freedom in 2012 by President Barack Obama; the nation’s highest civilian honor.
A hot-button issue
But her message Thursday wasn’t a self-touting speech to an uninterested crowd. Albright knows how to get a student’s attention, and she did so with an engaging conversation about current events and her career as a public servant.
After Albright addressed the crowd and broke the ice with a couple of jokes, she sat down for a formal interview with John Yemma, editor-at-large for the Christian Science Monitor.
And since foreign policy in Eastern Europe and Russia is Dr. Albright’s specialty, Yemma immediately turned his questions toward Ukraine.
“How could you best describe the conflict in Ukraine for someone who doesn’t know,” Yemma asked.
Albright confidently responded without hesitation.
“The short version of the conflict in Ukraine is that it has long been split between folks who look West toward Europe and those who tend to lean East toward Russia,” Albright said. “It’s a complicated issue; most things in that part of the world are, but I support no military invasion of any kind.”
A strong example
Albright has long been a champion for women’s rights.
However, she did not just preach it, she lived it. Albright’s confidence inspires confidence.
After the stage was opened up for questions by audience members, a young female audience member seemed driven to ask an honest, yet simple question:
“What’s it like being a woman in a man’s world?”
Once again, Albright answered without hesitation.
“It’s not easy to be a woman in a man’s world,” she said. “There is plenty of room in this world for mediocre men, but there is no room for mediocre women. So you have to work extra hard.”