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She would also study Russian at Moscow State University in the summer of 1979, and intern with the RAND Corporation in Santa Monica, California. Her dissertation centered on military policy and politics in what was then the communist state of Czechoslovakia.

She first worked in the State Department in 1977, during the Carter administration, as an intern in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. in political science from the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver.Rice discovered on the PBS series Finding Your Roots In her 2017 book, Democracy: Stories from the Long Road to Freedom, she writes, "My great-great-grandmother Zina on my mother's side bore five children by different slave owners" and "My great-grandmother on my father's side, Julia Head, carried the name of the slave owner and was so favored by him that he taught her to read." While Rice ultimately did not become a professional pianist, she still practices often and plays with a chamber music group. Mary's Academy, an all-girls Catholic high school in Cherry Hills Village, Colorado, and graduated at age 16 in 1971.She accompanied cellist Yo-Yo Ma playing Johannes Brahms' Violin Sonata in D Minor at Constitution Hall in April 2002 for the National Medal of Arts Awards. Rice enrolled at the University of Denver, where her father was then serving as an assistant dean.Rice was born in Birmingham, Alabama, the only child of Angelena (née Ray) Rice, a high school science, music, and oratory teacher, and John Wesley Rice, Jr., a high school guidance counselor, Presbyterian minister, Her name, Condoleezza, derives from the music-related term con dolcezza, which in Italian means, "with sweetness".Rice has roots in the American South going back to the pre-Civil War era, and some of her ancestors worked as sharecroppers for a time after emancipation.

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