First female Secretary of State Madeleine Albright speaks on FAU’s Boca campus

Dylan Bouscher

Former Secretary of State Madeline Abright discussed social problems and her personal life. Photo by Christine Capozziello

Madeleine Albright was once called the most deadly serpent by the Iraqi media. Then she wore a serpent pin to a meeting with Iraqi officials.

The first female, and now former Secretary of State mentioned this in a speech she gave in the Carol and Barry Kaye Auditorium on Wednesday, Feb. 15 on the Boca campus. Her speech was a part of the Alan B. Larkin Symposium, a series of lectures put on by the Department of History. The Larkin Symposium is run by Dr. Stephen Engle, the history professor who welcomed Albright on stage after FAU President Mary Jane Saunders kicked off the event with a brief introduction.

Engle joked about Albright’s famous pins, calling them a form of “broach democracy.”

“Economy and Security in the 21st Century” was the title of her speech, but Albright spoke mostly about her life and experience as Secretary of State during the Clinton administration. Albright barely talked about pressing foreign relations issues like the Arab Spring, or the European debt crises.

“The momentum for change persists in the Arab world,” Albright said in a vague reference to the Arab Spring. “Where the move from autocracy to democracy holds both promise and peril.”

Senior multimedia studies major Samantha Mellman said, “Personally it seemed a little light and fluffy to me.” She opined, “I think she talked more about herself than what’s going on.”

“I think her speech was inspiring,” senior political science major David Santiago said. “I believe she has a lot to offer still.”

Instead of talking about specific issues, Albright focused more on the nature of foreign relations. She compared diplomacy to “a game of billiards,” as opposed to the popular comparison to chess, adding that “one ball smashes into the next until the whole pattern on the table is rearranged.”

“Foreign policy is just getting some country to do what you want,” she added later.

At one point in her speech Albright praised FAU, saying FAU was the kind of school that made her proud. “You’ve been in business for a half a century and your president is a woman,” she said.

Albright also described the economic and social problems occurring across the world as a “crisis of confidence,” which had a direct impact on our view of the future. Then she started talking about her personal life.

Although Albright was born in Czechoslovakia, her family fled to England during World War II, and then the United States. On moving around so much, Albright joked “I could speak four languages — including English — but not American.”

Each time Albright transferred to a new school, she would start an international affairs club and make herself the president. “I didn’t go on a lot of second dates until I got to college,” she said.

“At least I’ll be a footnote in American history,” Albright said about once being the most powerful woman in the U.S. Government during the Q&A after her speech.

The last question Albright answered before her book signing was what the American youth could do to improve their future. “Study hard. We are counting on you to get an education.”