Madeleine Albright’s 2000 Commencement Address

Albright was the first woman to serve as U.S. secretary of state.

Madeleine Albright
Madeleine Albright speaks to GW graduates in May 2000.
March 24, 2022

Madeleine Albright, the first woman to serve as United States secretary of state, died Wednesday. She was 84. Albright delivered the George Washington University commencement address while serving as the top diplomat in the United States during President Bill Clinton’s administration.

In her May 2000 address to graduates and their families and friends, she encouraged students to “act with courage and compassion” in the face of adversity.

“No matter how high the odds against you may sometimes seem, and no matter how tough the opposition may be, I hope you will have the courage to go for it, never back down, and don't give in,” she said. “Because there is no greater satisfaction in life than using your gifts to help others and to contribute to your community and country.”

Read her commencement address, archived by the United States Department of State. 


Commencement 2000


Madeleine Albright


Politics and Society