Nikki Haley speaks at CPAC in Wash­ington, D.C. | Courtesy Wiki­media Commons

If Nikki Haley has had one thing since the moment she left her position as the U.S. Ambas­sador to the U.N., it’s been pressure to seek the highest, most pres­ti­gious office in the United States — the Hillsdale College Class of 2020 Com­mencement Speaker.

Recent com­mencement speakers have been impressive: Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, Vice Pres­ident Mike Pence, the Com­mandant of the Marine Corps, Robert Neller. And 164 other great men.

But don’t pick the former South Car­olina gov­ernor because she’s a woman — or because she had the grit to pull the U.S. out of the U.N. Human Rights Council when it made a mockery of its purpose by allowing human-rights abusers like Congo, Iran, and Venezuela to join the council.

With no prior foreign-policy expe­rience, Haley made her two-year per­for­mance at the U.N. more mem­o­rable than many ambas­sadors who served twice as long. She kicked butt (North Korea’s, to be precise, when it con­tinued to test nuclear mis­siles) and took names (of U.N. member states who voted against the U.S. recog­nition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel). She broke with modern foreign policy con­vention to act in the interest of her fellow cit­izens.

Pick Haley because she’s an American, in every sense of the word.

As a liberal-arts college, Hillsdale strives to produce stu­dents who work hard and exceed in a variety of dis­ci­plines. Haley, born Nimrata Randhawa, lives out that mission.

At age 12, Haley worked as a book­keeper in her mother’s clothing shop. She grad­uated from Clemson Uni­versity in South Car­olina with a bachelor’s degree in accounting, and worked for a waste man­agement cor­po­ration for a few years before returning to her mother’s clothing shop and building it into a mul­ti­million-dollar company.

Though born to Sikh immi­grants from India, Haley became a Christian later in life, and serves on the board of her local church in South Car­olina. Together with her husband Michael, Haley has two children — a daughter, Rena, and a son, Nalin.

Haley, a true stateswoman, has engaged in every level of the com­munity.

Before rep­re­senting the United States at the U.N., Haley served several years in the South Car­olina state leg­is­lature, engaging in her political com­munity, too. In 2010, she was elected gov­ernor of South Car­olina.

When selected to give the GOP’s response to then-Pres­ident Barack Obama’s 2016 State of the Union address, Haley, then only 44, had sage advice for her fellow Repub­licans.

“Some people think that you have to be the loudest voice in the room to make a dif­ference,” Haley said. “That is just not true. Often, the best thing we can do is turn down the volume. When the sound is quieter, you can actually hear what someone else is saying. And that can make a world of dif­ference.”

This is advice many grad­u­ating seniors also need to hear, upon entering a loud world.

Hillsdale stu­dents begin their edu­cation hearing Pres­ident Larry Arnn describe how hard it’s going to be, and so they put their boots on. After wrestling with the core class require­ments for four years, after working in the library for an unhealthy number of hours each week, after studying Plato and won­dering if they can actually escape the cave, Hillsdale’s seniors don’t need to hear about how hard life is — they already know. They need to be reminded why we live it.

In a recent tes­ti­monial for National Review, Haley wrote that “only by loving [America] and under­standing it — and by the grace of God — will it survive.”

Love of country; under­standing the prin­ciples that uphold it; the necessity of the sov­ereign grace of God: This is the message that grad­u­ating seniors need to hear.
This is the message Haley embodies.

Carmel Kookogey is a George Wash­ington Fellow and a junior studying pol­itics. She is The Collegian’s culture editor.