Susan Rice, the U.S. National Security Advisor and Stanford University graduate, recently presented an audience of ambitious young students with a heavy dose of inspiration. During an inspiring commencement speech at Florida International University, she emphasized the importance of embracing ideals that serve to benefit the country's multicultural population as a whole.
"As America becomes more diverse, so do our best people,” she told the FIU class of 2016 according to an official White House transcript of her speech. “The next Colin Powell or Madeleine Albright or Bill Richardson is out there. Our country—and our policies—will be stronger if we can bring them on-board.”
Speaking candidly with the graduates, Rice also encouraged them to "ignore the haters" and those who discourage diversity because of their own fears.
"Now, there are voices out there that disparage our diversity; that question whether America should welcome people of all races, religions, and creeds. Those voices can be loud. They can be intimidating," she said cautiously. "They can make us feel like we don’t belong. But, you know what? Let fear be their problem, not yours. Shake it off. Ignore the haters."
Rice also shared statistics illustrating the need for more diversity among the make up of the nation's senior diplomats, military officers and senior intelligence officials, noting that only 20 percent of individuals in those positions are minorities. She went on to remind the crowd that minorities currently account for 40 percent of the world population of 320 million, with an increasing number of minorities earning college degrees.
Rounding out her words to the future grads, she cautioned them against the dangers of groupthink, recommended that they travel the world and challenged them to lead by example in their lives ahead.
"By now, we should all know the dangers of ‘groupthink', where folks who are alike often think alike. By contrast, groups comprised of different people tend to question one another’s assumptions, draw on divergent perspectives and experiences, and yield better outcomes," she said.
"It’s hard to make progress without breaking a little crockery. So, don’t sweat what others think of you. And, don’t be afraid to go down fighting, if you’re fighting a righteous battle.”
Inspiring words, indeed.
WANT MORE FROM ESSENCE? Subscribe to our daily newsletter for the latest in hair, beauty, style and celebrity news.