Candy Crowley – ‘It helped prepare me for life’

Candy Crowley ’70

“Don’t be so focused on where you think you want to go, that you miss the open paths to other destinations.” – Candy Crowley ’70

National political journalist credits college for opening her mind—and instilling a love of learning

Returning to campus for her 45th reunion in May, Candy Crowley ’70 had some insightful advice for the seniors who graduated just a few weeks prior: “The thing that the years teach you that college cannot is that when people touch your life, however transitory or tangential it may seem, it changes you—even though you may not know it, appreciate it, or understand it until later.”

After a 27-year career at CNN, Crowley left her position as the network’s chief political correspondent and host of the Sunday talk show, State of the Union, in December. A well-respected and decorated journalist, Crowley covered the campaigns of the last five presidents, and in 2012, became the first female in two decades to moderate a presidential debate. She played a key role in CNN’s Peabody-winning coverage of the presidential primary campaigns and debates in 2008 and received the Leonard Zeidenberg First Amendment Award from the Radio Television Digital News Foundation in 2013.

Described by The Los Angeles Times as “no-nonsense” and a “straight shooter,” Crowley’s career brought her face-to-face with all of the recent presidents and kept her on the forefront of the high-paced political news world. A female in a professional world of predominantly men, Crowley credits her alma mater for helping instill confidence, the ability to listen, and a heightened sense of curiosity. “It didn’t help me prepare for my careers so much as it helped prepare me for life,” she said.

“College began to open the world to a teenager who grew up in the Midwest countryside. It broadened my knowledge across the board about what was out there, new ways to think, new ways to write, and new ways to be.”

Her English courses helped develop her love of writing, her current events courses kindled her interest in politics, and the friends she made still provide support and guidance.

Crowley finds it interesting just what has stuck with her over the years. She used “the point of diminishing returns,” an economics concept taught by the late Carl Stern, as an analogy in a number of stories over the years. “Dr. Stern also taught us how to survive on a $25-a-week-food budget for a family of four,” Crowley added. “Not kidding. That also came in handy.”

She vividly remembers her own day of graduation—and her dreams then. “I would marry the man I loved, have his five children, and write ‘The Great American Novel’ in my spare time,” she said. “The reality was I married a different man I loved and had two children with him in addition to the two he brought into my life, and I enjoy a career beyond anything I saw as feasible or possible. I still hope to write that book though.”

Now facing yet another chapter in her life’s book, Crowley encourages Randolph students to remain open- minded. “Goals help draw the roadmap of your life,” she said. “But don’t be so focused on where you think you want to go, that you miss the open paths to other destinations. Life could have something amazing in store for you that you cannot now imagine.”