Commencement 2005

"Lead a Good Life," said Ambassador and Sage Graduate School Alumna

Prudence Bushnell, dean of the Leadership and Management School at the Foreign Service Institute in Arlington, Va., career diplomat, and Sage Graduate School alumna (’80) delivered the commencement address at The Sage Colleges 89th Commencement Ceremony on May 8, in the Houston Field House on Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s campus in Troy. Bushnell received an honorary Doctor of Public Service degree.


At the ceremony, she implored graduates to lead a good life. “. . . And now you have a head start on making that goodlife,” she said. “What about leading a good life, not just for yourself, but for others? That’s something else. Making a good life can happen without a lot of thought; leading a good life implies intentions, decisions and actions. Others can help you make a good life, but they can’t lead it for you. Possessions and status can indicate you’ve made a good life, but they say nothing about whether you’ve led a good life. Only your own assessment, and the legacy you leave behind, will determine that.”


Bushnell served as United States Ambassador to the Republics of Guatemala (1999-2002) and Kenya (1996-1999). Prior to her appointment in Kenya, she was the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs in Washington, D.C. She earlier held positions in Bombay, India; with the Foreign Service Institute; and twice in Dakar, Senegal.


“My job, particularly as U.S. Ambassador to Kenya and then Guatemala, was to represent the American people and their government and to promote our values and interests,” Bushnell said. “My charge, in different words, was to help ensure that Americans can continue to make a good life and to spread the values that help us lead a good life. Because I love to travel to far-out places, I was able to meet people I would never normally have come in contact with. I heard their stories and witnessed their efforts to make and lead good lives.”


In 2004, Bushnell received the prestigious Service to America Career Achievement Medal. She has also received the Department of State’s Distinguished Honor Award, the Nairobi Mission Award for Heroism, and numerous Meritorious and Superior Honor awards. The Department of Commerce presented her its Peace through Commerce Award; Glamour magazine named her one of the “Top Ten Women of the Year” in 1998; and Vanity Fair magazine featured her in its 1998 Hall of Fame.