Clinton offers advice to young women seeking to emulate her
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
June 12th, 2012
02:00 AM ET

Clinton offers advice to young women seeking to emulate her

By Jill Dougherty

Whenever Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks before a group of women from other countries she's invariably asked whether she will run for president.

But at Monday's opening ceremonies for the first Women in Public Service Institute at Wellesley College in Massachusetts, Clinton pulled the curtain back on some of her personal history, talking to 50 young women from around the world, many of them from the Middle East and North Africa, bringing change to their countries, often in spite of great odds.

"It's a hot kitchen with lots of men," a young woman from Yemen told Clinton.

"If you get elected as the next president, will we..." The question was drowned out by applause. Will there be fewer wars with a woman president, she asked?

Clinton deftly sidestepped the political part of the question, but went on: "If women are not in the halls of government, then women's voices are not going to be heard when budgets are written."

Then, perhaps feeling more comfortable that usual at her alma mater, Clinton got personal.

"I know how daunting it can be to get started," she said. "When I first arrived on this campus in the fall of 1965, I was acutely aware of my own limitations. I didn't think I was smart enough or worldly enough to succeed here. I called home and I told my parents I didn't think I should stay at Wellesley. And my father immediately said, 'Well, then come home. Go to school near home.'"

"But my mother," she continued, "a women who had been abandoned as a child and had to fight for everything she had in life, said, 'You cannot quit. You must persevere. You must go on.' And of course, she was right. And I grew to love Wellesley and to test myself against limits that I experienced and then to try to go beyond them."

As the questions went on, Clinton began to sound like she was dishing the dirt with some girlfriends.

A woman from Israel asked her how she got into politics.

As a student, she said, she was interested in how government works. She ran for and served as college government president.

"But I didn't believe that I would go into electoral politics," Clinton said. "I thought I would be more of an activist in civil society."

It wasn't until 1998, she said, when she was approached by political leaders in New York who asked her if to run for the U.S. Senate.

"I said 'no.' I said that was not going to happen. And they were very persistent and they kept coming at me and kept arguing as to why I should run. And they, of course, had ulterior motives. That's just between you and me," Clinton said as the audience chuckled along.

She was going to be up against New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, she said, "And the Democrats in New York didn't think they could find anyone silly enough to run against him - but thought that if I ran I could at least make a respectable showing. I was kind of their sacrificial lamb, I think."

She went to New York for a sports event, she said, and saw big banner behind the podium where she was going to speak. "The banner said: 'Dare to Compete.'

"So this young woman introduces me," Clinton told the Wellesley audience, and she shook hands with a young sportswoman. 'She whispers in my ear, 'Dare to compete, Mrs. Clinton. Dare to compete.'

"I thought oh, no! Oh, boy. That did it!" Clinton said to another round of laughter and applause.

Did Clinton know where she was going four decades ago? No.

"I never could have sat where you are sitting and said to myself: Okay. I'm going to graduate from Wellesley, then I'm going to go to Yale Law School, then I'm going to meet a guy from Arkansas and I'm going to fall in love, and then I'm going to move to Arkansas, and then I'm going to marry him, and then he's going to be governor, and then he's going to President. I mean, that is not how life works," Clinton said to roars of laughter.

"I mean, really, right?"

Hillary Clinton's advice to the young women at Wellesley?

"Be open to opportunities, because when I was here all those years ago I never could have predicted the course of my life, never."

soundoff (36 Responses)
  1. Tyson Dobrunz

    Definitely, what a magnificent site and revealing posts, I definitely will bookmark your site.Best Regards!

    July 13, 2013 at 5:43 pm | Reply
  2. Pat

    The whirlwind that was the Clinton Presidency was an anomaly, to some extent, to a young very capable woman who had spent years "out of water" in Arkansas amid the southern comfort zone of a southern state where males predominate all of government and most of business – for decades – with little desire or incentive to change.

    Southern style doesn't lend itself to uppity females who believe they can compete with men, and heavily reward women of good manners and submissive ideals to preserve the status quo. Former Wellesley College training prompted her aspiration and her self confidence at Wellesley, but those attributes are easily squashed in an environment of social and economic oppression – even with the freedom of being a Governor's wife, or perhaps in part because of it?

    Hillary may yet be unaware of her potential in that the boxes into which women have been placed in America have never allowed easy exploration of their limits, if any. Those privileges have mostly still been reserved for men, in part because of the constraints placed upon them by motherhood. In having just one child, Hillary had fewer complexities of parenthood unlike women with two or more children, and she has used that to her own benefit, and for the benefit of her husband.

    She is unique in American history already, and depending upon public support, may not have reached her social limits within the political and popularity sphere. To great extent, further success will depend upon her continued interest, and what she still needs to prove to the world, and to herself. Capability has never been her problem by the observation of most astute examiners of Hillary's style and acuity.

    If she were not unique, America might already have had its first woman President, but it hasn't, and may not in the foreseeable future if she doesn't 't choose to run.

    April 3, 2013 at 10:39 am | Reply
  3. NorCalMojo

    "Find a successful man and hang on to those coat tails girls, even if he cheats."

    I think it's hilarious that people think she's some feminist icon.

    June 15, 2012 at 11:12 am | Reply
  4. government cheese

    Hillary Clinton keeps drunk texting me.

    June 15, 2012 at 4:31 am | Reply
  5. Terry Brookman

    She has created madness and mayhem in the Middle East, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, she leaves a trail of murder and loss. First comes Hilary then if they won't go along then the jackals come, CIA funded and equipped. Just look at the places where she has been practice diplomacy and see what is going on.

    June 14, 2012 at 11:36 pm | Reply
    • chefdugan

      You don't know the woman, will never know the woman and your ignorance is showing. She is Secretary of State not the Queen! Try very hard to get out of your tunnel and maybe your vision will improve. Otherwise just do us all a favor and shut up!

      June 15, 2012 at 9:47 am | Reply
    • chefdugan

      Her job is to carry out the foreign policy of the US, not MAKE it you stupid people! Take a civics course and learn a little about your government. She has done an outstanding job, better than anyone for the last 50 years. Her looks are irrelevant, her clothing style is irrelevant and her husband is irrelevant. I hope she runs and she will clean the clock of anyone who runs against her!

      June 15, 2012 at 9:53 am | Reply
  6. AB

    How about this one: Don't marry for POLITICAL gain.

    June 14, 2012 at 6:18 pm | Reply
    • Commojoe

      That's a good thought. With ragged-looking, old Hillary, you have to ad something about learning to throw those lamps hard and straight, too.

      June 15, 2012 at 12:01 am | Reply
  7. rit krishna

    big womens issue is family reunification due to wars,natural disasters,tragedies and poverty
    bringing together families that have been separated due to this all
    where does she stand how soon this can be achieved

    June 14, 2012 at 1:24 pm | Reply
  8. ArchieDeBunker

    Taking advice from Billary Clingon is like taking a laxitive when you've got diarrhea.

    June 14, 2012 at 11:18 am | Reply
    • Commojoe

      Ooooooh, Archie, I like that one.

      Edith

      June 15, 2012 at 12:02 am | Reply
  9. Grim Reaper

    Hilary should be giving stock picking advice. Her insider trading in the 70s-80s never got prosecuted and she walked away with a chunk of cash. The University of Arkansas teaches it why not have blonde ambition tell the whole truth. And I was a supporter of her.

    June 14, 2012 at 9:29 am | Reply
  10. Really?

    This woman can't give any advice! Look at how she stuck by a cheating dog all these years! Yeah, a SHINING example for today's woman.

    June 13, 2012 at 9:45 am | Reply
    • HRC 2016!!!

      You do realize no one cares what Bill did; he was a great President. A lot of married people cheat in some shape or form, most people don’t even know their spouse was unfaithful and it is certainly not broadcasted to the whole world for everyone to know. Hilary is a strong example of what women can achieve, she broke boundaries, the fact she choose to work on her marriage and stay in it was her own personal decision and has nothing to do with her great accomplishments that are inspiring to women who are still to this day fighting for equality in the workforce.

      June 13, 2012 at 11:36 am | Reply
      • willneverhappen

        thoase are her husband's accomplishments, not hers
        your favorite wrinkled lesbian will never be president, first of all
        secondly, stop making excuses for what you know is wrong. you're really reaching here and you sound pathetic

        June 13, 2012 at 11:51 am |
      • HRC 2016!!!

        Willneverhappen... What excuses am I making? I am pointing out that Hillary is a strong women with an impressive career – she is a great example to all women on what they can achieve. It doesn't matter if she ever becomes president, she has achieved a lot already.

        June 13, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
      • what do I know

        Bravo... I know my frinances and stress levels were pretty good when Bill was in office. It was sad that he did that, but almost all of them do ;( I think it was the smartest move ever to stay, she's beyond a man cheating on her – she loves him and he adores her. Shows she focuses on HER life, not HIS. The exact reason I'm glad she's been in as long as she has, at least someone has the "balls" to give women a voice among the good old boys club at the top. She must get completely disgusted. As far as what she has acomplished... watch or read any biography on her.. so many women might be dead all over the world if it wasn't for her work. Don't ever leave us Hil, we need you and more like you !!!! You finally see more of her in the news but where the hell is Biden???? you want to bash someone what has he "accomplished"????????? ever?????

        June 14, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
      • Ann Theresa

        Guess what....I care! Lack of moral character......keep it in your pants Bill. If your wife can't trust you, why should we....he's disgusting!

        June 14, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
    • Deerfield59

      I disagree. She wasn't giving "love" advice but public service advice. And, I'll take her advice on THAT any day over GW's or Cheney's advice on public service.

      June 13, 2012 at 2:22 pm | Reply
  11. RillyKewl

    Hillary Rodham Clinton 2016!!!

    June 12, 2012 at 10:40 pm | Reply
    • Katie

      Are you serious???? Look up UN Agenda 21.

      June 14, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Reply
  12. Loyal Northern Democrat

    Bill and Hillary met when they were both dating the same woman in college.

    June 12, 2012 at 10:17 pm | Reply
  13. Loyal Northern Democrat

    "if you want to work for a Democratic President you better swallow and like cigars!"

    June 12, 2012 at 10:16 pm | Reply
    • ss

      ditto for republicans, but they prefer boys over women.

      June 13, 2012 at 11:14 am | Reply
  14. Sharkfisher

    The best advice she can give any young: "stay far away from Bill"

    June 12, 2012 at 9:07 pm | Reply
  15. MoreFiber

    ... and not to wear orange pants suits.

    June 12, 2012 at 4:21 pm | Reply
    • what do I know

      ok ok.. leave her clothes alone. ha haaa. Would it give you more confidence to see her look like hollywood porn star, would anyone listen or take her seriously??? Basic message in the way she dresses.. "if you want to be taken seriously and respected, don't act and dress like a bimbo".. makes sense to me ;)

      June 14, 2012 at 1:16 pm | Reply
  16. Booskoo

    Step one, eat like a hog and wire brush your face every morning.

    June 12, 2012 at 9:46 am | Reply
    • pattysboi

      Grow UP and get a life.

      June 12, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Reply
    • Jennifer

      @ Booskoo: Yes. I'm sure you've achieved as much as Secretary Clinton has. The world will be a better place for young girls when they don't have to hear brilliant women being bashed because they don't measure up to a ridiculous standard of "beauty".

      June 12, 2012 at 4:32 pm | Reply
      • Lu

        Good post; I agree. As far as staying with her husband, that is her busines and it had no effect on her contribution as Secretary of State.

        June 13, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
      • sandy

        i don't particularly like the bashing of hillary for her appearance (am i the only one who doesn't think bill is that good looking either?)- but the truth is she has been a LOUSY secretary of state.

        we have a lousy foreign policy, with too many wars, and a lousy immigration policy-and no effort to fix it.

        i would like to know exactly what you think she has "accomplished"?

        June 13, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
    • Ungga

      I LoL'ed.

      June 13, 2012 at 9:28 am | Reply
    • what do I know

      If your judging looks, you better look at them all, none of those men are attractive.. only fair.. ur sooo jealous, that's all you can come up with?

      June 14, 2012 at 1:18 pm | Reply

Post a comment


 

CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.