University News

New Minority Leader Obtained Career Foundation at SUU

Published: November 24, 2004 | Author: Renee Ballenger | Category: Academics

Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), who was boosted by fellow democrats to the prestigious post of U.S. Senate minority leader soon after the election earlier this month, obtained the educational foundation to his career at Southern Utah University in Cedar City, Utah.

Sen. Reid received his associate’s degree in political science at SUU, which was then known as the College of Southern Utah, in May 1959. He came to SUU on a scholarship, from Henderson, Nev., where he attended high school. During his time at CSU, Sen. Reid boxed and played football. He is remembered mostly though as an excellent student.

“He was an outstanding student, a pretty good football player and from Nevada,” states professor emeritus of English, Kent Myers.

A native of Searchlight, Nev., a small mining town an hour outside Las Vegas, Reid says he is proof that anyone can succeed through hard work and determination.

“I want every American – from Searchlight to the big cities – to have the same opportunities I had, and more,” Reid declares. “This is a responsibility I take very seriously. Today I am honored to be called Leader, but in my heart, I am just Harry Reid from Searchlight. And that’s who I’ll always be.”

Sen. Reid suggests to SUU students who want a life in politics to seek it for the right reasons. “You have to really want to be an elected official,” Reid says. “You have to be willing to do the work both to get elected and then to do the job you were elected to do. If you’re going to have a truly successful career in politics, you need to get in for the right reasons, (because) you can make a difference in people’s lives. Whether it’s a position on the city council, or a United States Senator, you need to take very seriously the responsibility that voters have put their trust in you.”

After CSU, Sen. Reid received his bachelor’s degree at Utah State University and his law degree from George Washington law school. He served as Henderson City Attorney and Nevada State Assemblyman. In 1970, Sen. Reid, at age 30, was elected lieutenant governor, the youngest in the state’s history. In 1977, he was appointed chairman of the Nevada Gaming Commission, after which he returned to private law. In 1982, he won election to the U.S. House of Representatives, where he championed the Taxpayer Bill of Rights. He has served the U.S. Senate since 1986, where in his current term he acts as minority whip, the second-ranking democrat.

In 1984, during the annual Commencement exercises, SUU bestowed an honorary degree upon Sen. Reid. Of his time on campus as a student, he recalls, “I went (to CSU) on a sports scholarship, but quickly realized I wasn't good enough to continue down that path. I began to really love learning. And also realized if I worked hard I could get good grades. Of course the same is true of life. SUU prepared me for a career that I love. It has always been an honor and a privilege to be involved in this profession.”

Written by Tasha Williams, a sr. poli.sci./comm. major from North Salt Lake, UT

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