HOT SPRINGS (News Release) – Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will deliver the keynote address to the Class of 2019 at the Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences and the Arts commencement at 2 p.m., May 25, at the Hot Springs Convention Center.
“As one of the earliest advocates for the creation of ASMSA, I cannot imagine a better individual to challenge and inspire our twenty-fifth class of graduates as they enter the next phase of their educational journey. Hillary Rodham Clinton has enjoyed a distinguished career on state, national and global stages. In every role, she has been an advocate for youth,” noted ASMSA Director Corey Alderdice. “At ASMSA, we are committed to addressing the needs of students throughout Arkansas, providing young people with resources to bring distinction to our state, and inspire these emerging leaders to embrace their role in a global society. Secretary Clinton paved the way for the more than 2,500 graduates who have benefitted from ASMSA, and we are honored to have her be a part of our commencement celebration.”
Clinton has served as U.S. Secretary of State, a Senator from New York, First Lady of the United States, First Lady of Arkansas, a practicing lawyer and law professor, and an activist and volunteer for children advocacy groups and health initiatives among other policy issues.
She twice ran for president, first in 2008 against then-Sen. Barack Obama and again in 2016 when she became the first woman to earn a major party’s nomination for president by winning the Democratic Party’s bid.
Public service has been a mainstay of Clinton’s career since her early college days at Wellesley College in Wellesley, Mass., where she became involved with social justice activism, and at Yale Law School.
It was at Yale that she met Bill Clinton, a native Arkansan. Their relationship led Clinton to move to Arkansas, and the two married in October 1975. Clinton became First Lady of Arkansas in January 1979 after Bill won the November 1978 election for governor of Arkansas. After losing his first bid for re-election in 1980, Bill regained the governorship in 1982 and served 10 consecutive years in office.
Education reform was one of Clinton’s top priorities during her time as first lady of Arkansas. Among the topics of interest was the establishment of a residential high school focused on mathematics and science for gifted and talented students. Clinton hosted a feasibility meeting for establishing such a school with education, business and state government leaders at the Governor’s Mansion in April 1990.
Some of the tenets that define ASMSA even today were established at that meeting: the school should be a residential, public high school with free room and board; it should be available throughout the summer for teacher institutes and programs; and it should be a research center for teaching students, not only in the residential program, but serving as an outreach to all of the state’s students.
Draft legislation to create the Arkansas School for Mathematics and Sciences was sent to the Arkansas General Assembly in early 1991. Act 259 of 1991, which included the Senate bill approving the school, was signed by Gov. Clinton on Feb. 27, 1991. Act 305 of 1991, which included the House of Representatives bill to establish the school, was signed by the governor on March 1, 1991. It joined the University of Arkansas System in 2004, adding arts to its core mission and becoming the Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences and the Arts.
ASMSA is celebrating the 25-year anniversary of the school’s opening during the 2018-19 school year. The school welcomed its charter class of students to campus in August 1993. Those students became the first graduates in May 1995.
Then-U.S. First Lady Clinton spoke to the members of the charter class at their commencement via a pre-recorded speech. She congratulated them on their accomplishments and on proving that a school such as ASMSA could exist in Arkansas.
“They told us this idea would not work in Arkansas,” she said, speaking about the challenges she and others faced while working to create the school. “They told us kids would not want to leave their families, friends and schools to confront the educational and social demands that a school such as this would pose. So often we underestimate the abilities of our people, and particularly our young people.”
Clinton has continued to champion education, health care programs and new opportunities for families and children. As first lady of the United States, she fought to reform the health care system. In a bipartisanship effort, she worked with Congress to create the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which provides more than 8 million children with health coverage, cutting in half the uninsured rate for children.
After her 2008 bid for president came up short, she accepted an appointment as the U.S. Secretary of State from President Barack Obama in 2009. During her four-year tenure, she fought for human rights, internet freedom, and rights and opportunities for women and girls, LGBT people, and young people around the globe.
After the 2016 election, she founded Onward Together, a nonprofit group that encourages people — in particular young leaders — to organize, get involved and run for office and create new organizations to fight for progressive values.