Ambassador Cynthia Shepard Perry
Ambassador Cynthia Shepard Perry always knew she wanted to be an ambassador. Her University of Massachusetts Amherst degree put her on the path to achieving that dream.
When I was still in high school, we were required to take a course called civics. The teacher—his whole concept was service. The reason why you are here on Earth is to help make it a better place to live. And that requires service. And so I came away from there thinking I was going to be an ambassador. By the time I got to UMass, I was asked, what are you going to do with a doctorate in international education? And I said, "Well I'm going to be an ambassador." I owe a lot to the University of Massachusetts. I think it's where I grew up, even though I was almost 40. When George Bush got to Washington as Vice President, I wrote him a letter and said, I want to be ambassador. And here's my resume. And you tell me what I have to do. So he wrote me a letter back saying that only presidents can appoint ambassadors. And I was staying with some friends. And the telephone rang. And he came and knocked on my door and he said, "Somebody on the telephone wants to speak to you. He says he's the President of the United States." Ha, ha, ha. OK. It was Ronald Reagan asking me, would you like to be my ambassador to Sierra Leone? I didn't even hear what country he said. "As long as I was going to be named ambassador, I'll go wherever you want, Mr. President," I said. Young women, young men, don't set your sights too low. You got to reach very high. In doing so, you keep improving yourself trying to reach that high goal. One's reach must exceed one's grasp. Or what's a heaven for? My name is Ambassador Cynthia Shepard Perry. I stand for oneness of the people of the world. And I stand for UMass.