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5 Actions of Highly Effective Students

IMG_2396.PNG5 Actions of Highly Effective Students

We are coming to the end of the semester and my thoughts are turning to some exceptional students, and sadly those who have missed the mark. Very little separates them. Sometimes students do well simply because they’ve hit a certain momentum. Others have family support that motivates them to do well. And those who don’t do well are in a downward spiral sometimes because of working too much, not having family support, or just feeling as though they don’t want to or can’t navigate college.

Here are five actions my best college students take that make them successful.

1. Get to know at least one professor. Stop by during office hours, send a thoughtful email and try to get to know a professor.  Read their blog or book; show you’ve done a little research about who they are and what they do.
2. Show up!  Don’t miss class and if you do, communicate and make up the work.
3. Be curious and open minded. Join a club you didn’t think you’d join and consider a major or minor that you did not initially think you’d like.
4. Follow up! If a professor mentions something of interest in class, send an email or ask about it.
5. Ask for help. If you think your professor can help you, speak up.  Whether it is about the coursework of the semester or future career plans, your professor wants to help you.


2 hours in line to buy women empowerment merchandise

I’m an online shopper.  My daughter will tell you that a trip to the mall makes me cranky.  So, to see me standing in a two hour line today to buy posters and a “wild feminist” sweatshirt, as well as a commemorative pin for the Women’s March on Washington was a site to behold.  Dr. Jen Sacco tipped me off that this was the place to be today in DC.  She was correct!

As I stood in line I met thoughtful, passionate people.  They felt like they were my friends for life.

That’s right.  Today, in Washington, DC, across the street from the Mellow Mushroom Pizza Shop (really good pizza, by the way) there I was.  Why?  Because I believe in the march that’s happening on Saturday and I want the administration to know that women are watching.

We care about our country and we want to be heard.

God Bless America.


Still Paving the Way for Madam President

When Chelsea Clinton addressed the audience at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown with just six weeks left in the 2016 campaign, she said that in private moments her mother, Hillary Clinton, reflected on the historical importance of winning the Democratic nomination to become the first woman president of the United States. And although Hillary Clinton did not win the presidency, her historic nomination, through images and words, continues to inch the country forward on our path to inaugurating the first woman president. As heart breaking as the results of the 2016 campaign are for Hillary Clinton and her supporters, her noteworthy path–as first lady of Arkansas, US Senator, Secretary of State and the first woman to win a major party nomination–has been ground-breaking and important. `

Whenever any speaker addresses an audience, there are short term goals: to entertain, inform, persuade, even inspire, and there are long term goals.  It is the long term goal of making real a woman US president, that Hillary Clinton, and others have helped achieved, when they have sought the US presidency.  

At the Cow Palace in San Francisco on July 15, 1964, Margaret Chase Smith, the reserved Republican Maine senator who made a bid for the presidency, was greeted with cheers from a reception of supporters who declared: “She is still in the race!” Vermont Senator George Aiken nominated her at the convention, and one admirer noted, “Every woman, Republican and Democrat, owes a debt of gratitude to Margaret Chase Smith because she has opened the door for a woman to serve in the presidency.”  

Eight years later, New York Congresswoman, the “unbought and unbossed” Shirley Chisholm, received 151 of the delegates’ votes at the convention in Miami. She wanted to effect political change with the power of her delegates. At a speech she said: “I’m just so thankful that in spite of the differences of opinions, the differences of ideology, and even sometimes within the women’s movement the differences of approaches, that here we are today at a glorious gathering of women in Miami.”  She also noted that people are more sexist than racist.  And others – Pat Schroeder in 1988, Elizabeth Dole in 1999 and Carol Moseley Braun in 2004 were contributing to the long term goal of a woman president.  As the most successful female candidate, Hillary Clinton noted in 2008 in her concession speech:

You can be so proud that, from now on, it will be unremarkable for a woman to win   primary state victories – unremarkable to have a woman in a close race to be our nominee, unremarkable to think that a woman can be the president of the United States. And that is truly remarkable, my friends.

 She echoed the same sentiment in 2016 at the Democratic National Convention when she said:

 Tonight, we’ve reached a milestone in our nation’s march toward a more perfect union: the first time that a major party has nominated a woman for president. Standing here as my mother’s daughter, and my daughter’s mother, I’m so happy this day has come. I’m happy for grandmothers and little girls and everyone in between. I’m happy for boys and men – because when any barrier falls in America, it clears the way for everyone. After all, when there are no ceilings, the sky’s the limit. So let’s keep going until every one of the 161 million women and girls across America has the opportunity she deserves to have.

 The Keys to the White House

The governorship has historically been the pathway to the presidency, except when it is not, which most recently has been the case.  Nonetheless, for those historically underrepresented presidential aspirants, such as women, it would be wise to keep an eye on the women who are governors. Mary Fallin, Republican from Oklahoma, Nikki Haley, Republican from South Carolina, and Susana Martinez, Republican from New Mexico, and now, Oregon’s Kate Brown who has become the first openly LGBT governor, are women to watch for the presidency.

In this election, Kamala Harris became the second black woman elected to the US Senate in California, Ilhan Omar from Minnesota, became the first Somali-American legislator, and Nevada’s Catherine Cortez Masto became the first Latina senator in US history. Programs that support women interested in public office, such as Emerge, are important to help fill the pipeline. These are important wins for cultural acceptance, because just as the election of the first African American as president has not erased difficult race relations in the United States, the election of the first woman president, whenever it comes, will not remove all sexism and misogyny. These “firsts” expand what it means to be a political woman in the United States.

 For many reasons, the 2016 presidential race has been historic: there were initially 17 candidates competing for the Republican Party’s nomination, and businessman Donald Trump defied all predictions to emerge as the nominee, despite no previous political experience. Former First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, running for president for the second time in the Democratic Party, this time winning the nomination, but after a bruising series of contests that revealed deep divisions among constituencies.

 When the votes were totaled, Donald Trump won a decisive victory. He won key battleground states:  Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and North Carolina.  In her concession speech, Hillary Rodham Clinton said, “to all the women, especially all the young women, who put their faith in me.  Nothing has made me more proud than to be your champion.”  She added:  “I know we have still not shattered that highest and hardest glass ceiling, but some day someone will and hopefully sooner than we might think right now.” The factors that contributed to Hillary Rodham Clinton’s defeat invite scholars to continue to examine the still complicated path to the presidency that women in the United States face, however even her unsuccessful bid is a push forward to the path to a woman president.


The first nominee but Madam President will have to wait


Hillary Clinton’s Hard Choices (chapters 10-13) and Donald Trump’s Crippled America — recently re-named How To Make America Great Again (chapter 6)

The tone and tenor of the most recent autobiographies of our presidential nominees follow the same tone and tenor of their convention speeches.  But Donald J. Trump’s convention speech was painted a pessimistic view of America underscoring crime and violence in America.

In her  convention speech, Hillary Clinton  had the advantage of going second, which allowed her to respond to Trump’s depressing view of the country and underscoring her own view that the country has many great aspects, including the hard work of Americans who continue to make America great each day.

In this blog, I present chapter summaries from Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton’s most recent autobiographies to help readers discern their view of America, their experience to be president and to get a sense of how they would lead.


PART 4: of Hillary Clinton’s Hard Choices – Between Hope and History

Chapter 10: Europe: Ties That Bind

This is a  social chapter, where Hillary Clinton lists her many friends in Europe, attends many dinners and shakes many hands. When not discussing NATO or Turkey — two of the biggest challenges to watch in Europe during her tenure — she often looks back to how foreign policy has changed since she was first lady. She spends a significant amount of time discussing Serbia and Kosovo, and ends the chapter in Northern Ireland. She admired German Chancellor Angela Merkel, despite the austerity, and once called French leader Nicolas Sarkozy “her Prince Charming.” Not surprising, given Clinton’s recent emphasis on climate change, she singles out her U.S.-E.U. Energy Council proposal as one of her big focuses in Europe.
Chapter 11 – Russia: Reset and Regression

Much of the chapter works as a defense of the “reset” with Russia and gives Clinton the opportunity to look incredibly prescient on Russia in hindsight. The reset begins with a blunder, when American diplomats hand the Russian foreign minister a reset button that reads “overcharged” instead of “reset.” Clinton thought U.S.-Russian relations were going swimmingly with then-President Dmitry Medvedev but knew things would go downhill when Vladimir Putin returned. When Clinton left the State Department, she warned Obama to take a harder line with Russia.

Chapter 12/Latin America: Democrats and Demagogues

Clinton’s hard choices in Latin America include saying that the problem of drug cartels “is also an American problem” and that the United States has a responsibility to address it; working to keep Cuba out of the Organization of American States while also working to increase the United States’ soft-power influence on the isolated country; and helping Honduras after it suffered a coup.

She says not bringing back USAID contractor Alan Gross was one of her regrets as secretary and described the late Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez as “a self-aggrandizing dictator who was more of an aggravation than a real threat, except to his own citizens.”

Chapter 13/Africa: Guns or Growth?

Clinton begins her chapter on Africa by posing the question that plagued the State Department during her time there: How to help the progress happening in so many countries while also stemming the “chaos and privation” that still dominate? Clinton’s priorities in the region included working to reward countries that were succeeding at democracy, helping stop violence against women, expanding PEPFAR — President George W. Bush’s program to fight HIV/AIDS in the region — and helping poor and hungry families. She discusses China’s growing economic influence in the region, South African civil rights leader Nelson Mandela’s influence and that time a Kenyan councilman wanted to trade 40 goats and 20 cows for Chelsea Clinton’s hand in marriage.

Donald Trump’s Crippled America / Chapter 6  The Energy Debate:  A lot of hot air

In this chapter Donald Trump contends that climate change is a myth.  He argues that there is oil in America and natural gas and we should use that. It will last us until next century and by then we’ll all be dead anyway.  He also believes that the Keystone XL pipeline should be allowed to go ahead. We should drill everywhere oil is accessible.  He also argues that wind power is the worst because it ruins the view from golf courses.



Chapter 5 of Donald Trump’s Crippled America and Chapters 7/8/9 of Hillary Clinton’s Hard Choices

Donald Trump – Crippled America, Chapter 5; Education:  A Failing Grade

Trump opens by saying that his father did not have a college degree but that he so valued a college education that he lent financial assistance to his brother John so that he could earn a master’s degree.  Donald Trump also shares his own education:  “I went to the Wharton School of Finance at the University of Pennsylvania, which is, in my opinion, the best business school in America–and arguably the hardest there is to get into.”   He also says that his goal is to make America the best education for all of us.

It is significant that Trump begins his discussion of education by juxtaposing o a successful Ivy League graduate, himself, with a self-made man, his father. Implicit in this comparison is the belief that education isn’t essential to be successful. Like many things that Trump says, he makes a forceful assertion that is vague enough to be interpreted a variety of ways. Yes, education is important he says, but the measure of true accomplishment success in business.

Hillary Clinton Hard Choices PART 3: WAR AND PEACE

Chapter 7- Af Pak Surge

Three days before Thanksgiving 2009, Clinton recalls sitting in the White House situation room as Obama asked for advice about Afghanistan, which “was on its way to becoming the longest [war] in American history.” The summer had gone badly, with an increase in Taliban fighters and attacks on NATO forces, and an election marred by widespread fraud. Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal asked for more troops. In the end, Obama decided on a “surge” of 30,000 troops, focused on security, human services and helping the government, with a deadline for withdrawal in 18 months. The military brass went away happy, but Vice President Biden was displeased and warned of a “bloody quagmire.” As for Clinton, she writes that she was “under no illusions about how difficult it would be to turn around this war. But all things considered I believed that the President had made the right choice and put us in the best position to succeed.”

 Chapter 8 Afghanistan: To End a War

Clinton writes about trying to conscript Pakistan into the effort to secure Afghanistan’s future. The United States held secret talks with a top aide to Mohammad Omar, head of the Taliban. Prisoner swaps, Clinton wrote, were discussed, including Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. “The Taliban’s top concern seemed to be the fate of its fighters being held at Guantanamo Bay and other prisons,” Clinton writes, adding that in every such discussion “we demanded the release” of Bergdahl.

Chapter 9 Pakistan: National Honor

The highlight of this chapter is easy: Clinton details the meetings that led up to the move on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, and the tense moments as the raid took place. Officials held regular meetings in March and April leading up to the May 1, 2011, raid. Then-CIA Director Leon E. Panetta and national security adviser Tom Donilon supported a raid; then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates didn’t. Biden also was skeptical.

On April 28, 2011, Obama convened the group for one last meeting in the situation room. He asked everyone at the table for their final recommendation. Clinton writes that since Obama and she were both lawyers,  she had learned to appeal to Obama’s analytical mind and laid out the case that the risks were outweighed by the benefits of success.


Out of the Keyboards of Presidential Candidates: Chapters 5&6 Clinton and Chapter 4 Trump Autobiographies

You’ve heard “out of the mouths of babes”–right?  How about “out of the keyboards of presidential hopefuls?”!  I love a good project and here it is:  reading the most recent autobiographies of Hillary Clinton–Hard Choices and Donald Trump–Crippled America. This is an assignment my students will do in fall, so I’m getting a running start on it and sharing it with you.  Read on and draw your own contrasts:

Chapter 5:  Beijing/The Dissident

In this chapter, Hillary Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner make their way to Beijing for a strategic and economic summit to negotiate the fate of  Chen Guangcheng, a blind dissident who advocated on behalf of fellow villagers against local authorities. He escaped house arrest, injured his foot and traveled to Beijing, where he sought refuge in the U.S. Embassy. Clinton negotiated over Chen’s fate playing out behind the scenes as she and Geithner publicly engaged in polite talks with Chinese leaders about larger strategic matters — each side desperate to avoid sparking a crisis. Despite the high-wire act, Clinton writes that her decision to send embassy officials out to retrieve Chen and offer him refuge “wasn’t a close call.”

Chapter 6/Burma: The Lady and the Generals

Clinton call Burma’s transformation one of the high points of her time as Secretary of State. She writes of inching diplomacy along as a new leader became president, the release of Nobel Prize-winning opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest, and the halting of construction of a Chinese dam on the sacred Irrawaddy River. Finally, Obama speaks directly to Suu Kyi by phone — swapping “stories about their dogs” — and clears Clinton for the first visit by a U.S. secretary of state to Burma in more than 50 years. Highlights of that trip: Meeting Suu Kyi in person. Hearing that the speaker of the lower house of parliament was “trying to understand how to run a Parliament” by watching “The West Wing.” And taking off her shoes at an ancient Buddhist temple in Rangoon, where journalists took note of her “sexy siren red” toenail polish.

Chapter 4 Trump’s Crippled America

In Chapter 4, Foreign Policy:  Fighting for Peace, begins by stating:  “The career diplomats who got us into many foreign policy messes say I have no experience in foreign policy.”  He contends that it does not take years of experience or nuance to make a decision and that the state of the world is  a “terrible mess.”  He describes the diplomats as “pin striped bureaucrats and so-called experts.”   He writes that what he does know is what we are doing now is not working.  His advice:  “When you are digging yourself deeper and deeper into a hole, stop digging.”  His approach is to “Operate from strength.”  He quotes the boxer, Mike Tyson:  “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”  He asserts that the best way to not have to use your military power is to make sure that the power is visible.  He writes that “It’s no wonder nobody respects us.  It’s no surprise that we never win.”   He believes that it is time that the world pay their fair share. He says that the biggest question people ask about foreign policy is “at what point do we put boots on the ground?”  He notes he is not afraid to criticize President Obama about Iran and that the deal the president negotiated with Iran was the “worst I have ever seen.”  He believes that today the world has to deal with two “sets” of China.  He writesimages that tipping your hand is the worst mistake.  He closes the chapter by saying that “we need to pay special attention to the Chinese.”  and that “The new dawn of America has just begun.”


Chapter 3 Trump and 3 and 4 Clinton Autobiographies

You can learn a lot about people by what they say and write about themselves, which is why I’m reading Trump’s autobiography “Crippled America” and Clinton’s “Hard Choices” and sharing their messages with you.  Here’s chapter 3 of each:

Trump’s Chapter Three is titled:  Immigration:  Good Walls Make Good Neighbors and  re recounts that when he announced he was running for president he spoke for almost an hour.  He complained about illegal immigrants and offered a solution to build a great wall and that because he has so much experience building things, the wall would be a great success.  He asserts that he “loves immigration” but “what I don’t love is the concept of illegal immigration.”  He writes that “some of those immigrants are a source of real crime.”  He writes “Walls work” and cites Israel’s walls as a great example.  He says that while the wall is great it would be just a start, and sums up by writing that his immigration policy is “pretty simple.”  He believes that:  “we need to make it easier for the people who can contribute to this country to come here legally while making it impossible to criminal elements and other people to get here legally.”

Clinton’s Chapter Three is titled:  Asia:  The Pivot

This chapter begins with a retelling of Secretary Clinton’s first road trip as SOS.  She tells the reader that she travelled nearly a million miles during her time and she describes the layout and staffing of her plane.  Her first trip, to Asia was, as are most of the trips as SOS to help create a good relationship with the country and to aid the country in shaping its future.  She discussed the rise of China and the threat of North Korea.  She had a Q and A at Ewha Women’s University and after she visited Japan she went to Jakarta, Indonesia where she was greeted by a group of young students from the school that Barack Obama attended.  She then discusses North Korea and discusses some of her husband’s experiences in the country and with the leaders.  She also discusses her visits to India, Vietnam, Laos and Mongolia.  Chief among her goals for the trip was political reform.  She offers the tidbit that during her extensive travel as SOS she learned to sleep just about anywhere.

Chapter 4:  Unchartered Waters  Recounting President Nixon’s 1972 historic trip to China, Hillary Clinton tells the story that she and Bill rented a TV to watch the news coverage of “the week that changed the world.”  In 1995 she traveled to China to give her speech on women’s rights and her speech was censored by Chinese television.  The US did not have a pavilion in the major international exhibition, so Hillary Clinton raised the money and got it built, which helped enormously with diplomacy to the country.  She left the country feeling more confident about the strategy in Asia.  She then turns to attention to her daughter Chelsea’s wedding and shares what a beautiful event it was for her family.  She recounted when Bill and Chelsea danced to “The Way You Look Tonight.”  She wrote:  “It was one of the happiest and proudest moments in my life.”


May 2017
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