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The Simmons Voice

The Student News Site of Simmons University

The Simmons Voice

The Student News Site of Simmons University

The Simmons Voice

Hillary Clinton alludes to the confidence gap at the Simmons Leadership Conference

President Drinan doesn’t pop the presidency question

By Taylor Rapalyea
Staff Writer

The ballroom at the Seaport Hotel had cleared out as quickly as it had been packed, but there were still groups of people excitedly buzzing about. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had just left the stage at the 2014 Simmons Leadership Conference.

Hillary Clinton speaks at Simmons College

Wednesday, April 23, former Secretary of State Clinton joined a roster of impressive female leaders as the keynote speaker to talk about “jumping the curve”, the theme of the evening. She began her appearance with a speech that touched on many topics, but carried the underlying challenge to women: “Dare to compete.”

Lack of workplace confidence in the female gender has been a hot topic in the past month: Authors of “The Confidence Gap” even graced the cover of “The Atlantic” in the May issue. Clinton’s speech alluded to this phenomenon, under the category of competition.

She recalled her initial refusal to run for the position of Senator from New York, because a former first lady had never run for anything. Clinton was speaking at an event for young female athletes, daring them to compete.

She expressed to us her embarrassment when a tall young woman leaned down to her afterward, and whispered in her ear, “dare to compete, Mrs. Clinton.”

Because even she – a powerhouse extraordinaire, accomplished corporate lawyer, former first lady, and hero to many women worldwide – was held back by the idea that she wasn’t qualified enough.

“It’s always surprising to me how many young women think they have to be perfect,” said Clinton. “I rarely meet a young man who doesn’t already think he is.”

The unspoken mission of Simmons College is to empower women so they are never afraid to compete.

“I do feel Simmons encourages healthy competition in athletics and academics and not socially,” said President of Simmons Helen Drinan in regards to the theme of Clinton’s speech. “But I do feel the concept of ‘Dare to Compete’ is new to us and something we may want to encourage.”

Some audience members expressed disappointment that President Drinan didn’t pop the presidential question.

“I was waiting for [Drinan] to ask,” said Nafeesa Connolly, a Simmons senior who was volunteering at the event.

“Her current speaking tour could be comparable to a runner preparing in the last couple of weeks before a marathon,” said Lindsey Johnson, a Simmons junior who was there with the Student Government Association. “I feel like something big is about to happen, especially since her new book is about to be released. Is this the prelude to the campaign?”

But Johnson wasn’t surprised that the 2016 question wasn’t raised.

“It did not seem like the time nor the place to ask that question,” said Johnson.

While the subject was never directly addressed – barring a snafu with Drinan’s microphone when she said, “I’m shaking the hand of the next president of the United States,” – Clinton’s address was distinctly presidential.

“I did not ask Mrs. Clinton about running because she is asked it all the time and does not answer,” said Drinan. “I did not want to waste her time or mine.”

In addition to subtly touting her foreign policy experience by telling stories from her time as Secretary of State, Clinton peppered her speech with humor, making herself seem personable. As the hackneyed political saying goes, the former first lady came across as someone you’d like to get a beer with.

It’s not beyond the realm of possibility that Clinton is using her national speaking tour as a means of breaking out of her Washington insider persona, and a platform off of which she makes herself a viable candidate for president.

During a recent speaking engagement in Nevada, she was even able to brush off an audience member throwing a shoe at her by cracking a joke.

“Thank goodness she didn’t play softball like I did,” Clinton quipped afterward.

The 2016 presidential election edges ever closer, and the question remains: Will Hillary Clinton dare to compete?

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