The State Dinner was in honor of the visit of British Prime Minister David Cameron and his wife, Samantha. In speaking with the students, Anderson was joined by First Lady Michelle Obama and White House Executive Chef Cris Comerford.
“When I was your age I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with my life, but I did look around the world and there were things that I saw that I didn’t like,” Anderson told the girls in the State Dining Room. “There were injustices I wanted to change. I saw that I had learned I can personally make an impact.”
Anderson said a college internship at the United Nations sparked her interest in public service. “There I saw a place where countries could come together trying peacefully to work out disagreements and work together on the issues, to make the world better and a safer place.”
“A few years ago I was given another opportunity to return to the United Nations where I had my first internship, the very place, and it looked exactly the same, I have to tell you,” Anderson said, who had previously worked as U.S. ambassador for Special Political Affairs to the United Nations, and deputy to U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice.
“There were times when Secretary of State [Hillary] Clinton, Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice and I would be at a meeting,” she explained. “And I’d look around the table and see that the entire United States Delegation was all women.”
“That sent a pretty powerful message about the kind of country we are, a place where everyone is given the opportunity to contribute and lead,” Anderson said. “In fact, one diplomat from another country once said to me, ‘Looking at your delegation I see that we have a lot more work to do in our country.’”
“We, of course, have a lot of work to do in our country and around the world to make sure every person is able to grow up in a world with security and peace and also can realize their full potential,” Anderson said. “And each of you is going to be part of making that world a reality.”
Anderson’s remarks came during a preview event for the State Dinner for female students of the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson School in the UK, the Elizabeth Seton High School in Maryland, and the National Cathedral School in Washington, D.C. Mrs. Obama and Chef Comerford also gave inspirational talks to the girls and previewed the menu for the event.
As the first female executive chef at the White House, Comerford said “it’s a really great ceiling that was broken.” Mrs. Obama and Anderson encouraged the girls that they could be sitting in the Oval Office someday or -- for the girls at Elizabeth Garret Anderson -- residing at 10 Downing Street.
During a question and answer session with the students, Anderson listed as inspirational figures Madeleine Albright, the first female Secretary of State under President Bill Clinton, and Mrs. Obama for “the way she’s carried out her role as First Lady.”