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Hillary Clinton, Former Secretary of State

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Wellesley College seniors had never before chosen a commencement speaker from their own ranks when Hillary Rodham stepped to the podium on the last day of May in 1969. Education, she said, must grant ""the courage to be whole"" and permit people to live ""in relation to one another in the full poetry of existence."" The speech received national attention and marked Rodham as a leading light for the young women of her generation.

By now, it's safe to say that the early promise has come to fruition; had Hillary Rodham Clinton ""merely"" attended Yale Law, served on the staff of the Senate Watergate Committee, become a respected children's rights advocate, been the first female partner at her law firm, been a mother and served as First Lady of Arkansas, we would think of her as a leader. And yet, she has, by now, spent two additional decades at the very heart of the national consciousness — as a sometimes-embattled First Lady, as a distinguished senator from New York, as the 67th Secretary of State and as a groundbreaking Presidential candidate in 2008 and 2016. Clinton has outlasted the smears to top Gallup's ""most admired woman in America"" a record 17 times since 1993.

On April 12, 2015, Clinton announced her run for president in 2016. Clinton made history June 7, 2016 when she declared victory in the Democratic presidential primary, marking the first time a woman captured the nomination of a major political party in the United States' 240-year history.