Condoleezza Rice was born in 1955 in Birmingham, Alabama. Her parents, both educators, maintained a stable and insulated household despite the furious activity of the Civil Rights movement during her formative youth, and her family eventually moved to Denver, Colorado, where she began taking courses at the University of Denver when she was 15.

As one might expect, her subsequent academic career was fairly impressive. She graduated from the University of Denver with a bachelor's degree in political science (cum laude) when 19 years old, earned her master's degree at the University of Notre Dame, and earned her doctorate at the University of Denver Graduate School of International Studies. In 1981, she began teaching at Stanford University, where she was repeatedly awarded honors for her work.

Several times during the 1980's, she was consulted by sitting presidents on matters of arms control and the Soviet Union, her interest in the latter having grown out of a class she took when 15 with Madeleine Albright's father, a professor at the University of Denver.

She served as an adviser to George W. Bush during his campaign, and was instrumental in his formulation of a foreign policy agenda. She is currently his National Security Adviser, serving as a liaison between various agencies and departments and the president.

Her positions are very much in keeping with the conservative attitude of the Bush administration: she believes in a missile defense shield to protect the United States and its allies against nuclear attacks, and feels that America ought to behave internationally as the superpower that it is. She is no hawk, however, and is acutely sensitive to the intricacies of geopolitics.

Incidentally, she is an African-American conservative, and quite photogenic, a fact which has pleased the Republican party to no end. In a speech to the Republican National Convention, she noted that her parents lived under Jim Crow laws enforced by Southern Democrats, and many observed the rapturous glee of the RNC at being the "good" party with respect to a racial issue. For their part, some liberal commentators have accused her of being an Uncle Tom.

And her nickname is "Condie."