An examination of Powell's life suggests how he achieved his success and what he had to overcome to do it.
Powell has also not been at all reticent about spreading his own message for success to others. When he was still Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the Pentagon in 1992, he returned to Morris High School in the South Bronx, where he was once a student, and told the students to get their high school diplomas as a minimum to achieving anything in life: "Without it, you are on your way to nowhere" (Hughes 11). Powell has continued delivering this and related messages since he retired to private life--private in that he is no longer part of the government, but public in that he remains in the public eye and uses this fact to promote worthy causes to benefit the poor and to advance education among young people.
As noted, colin Powell was the son of jamaican immigrants and was raised in the Bronx. He was a graduate of the City College of New York and not West Point, as would have been the normal route for one who would rise so high in the military establishment. Powell served two combat tours in Vietnam and advanced in rank. In 1987, he accepted Ronald Reagan's appointment of him as national security adviser, at which time newspaper columnist Carl Rowan wrote,
To understand the significance of Powell's elevation to this extremely difficult and demanding post, you must realize that only a generation ago it was an unwritten rule that i