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Georgetown professor and former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright urged more than 100 recipients of the Master of Science in Foreign Service (MSFS) degree to make learning a lifelong endeavor, keynoting the program's awards ceremony as 2011 commencement activities continued on the Hilltop Friday night.

The key to wisdom is being open to new ideas; "those who believe they are in full possession of the truth can be dangerous," Albright said during an MSFS Tropaia event that proved a raucous celebration of achievements for students and hundreds of their family and friends in Gaston Hall.

Albright said that whether the issue is nuclear proliferation, food security or personal freedom, issues can look very different from one side of the world to the other.  "The challenge is to make them so we're not defined solely by our differences," she said.

Alumni honoree Ben Powell (G '00), founder of a nonprofit that invests in entrepreneurs in the developing world, told graduates to stay in touch with one another.  "There is enormous social capital in this room," said Powell, "and it can grow or diminish based on your actions.  Nurture it."

Student speaker Mahveen Azam said that in MSFS, she found what she had sought when she came to Georgetown from Pakistan to study international affairs.  "What truly makes this a great program is... great people who are seriously invested in each other's success," she said.

Honorees included 15 graduates who completed the MSFS oral examination with distinction.

Marco Schad, a parish priest in the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., and a 2003 MSFS and Law Center graduate delivered the benediction.

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Student speaker Matthew Shapiro's remarks were a highlight of the BSFS Tropaia awards ceremony Friday afternoon:

As a 2011graduate of the School of Foreign Service (SFS), Matthew Shapiro says he is most grateful for the sense of community he was able to establish while a student at Georgetown.

“The most valuable lessons of the past four years have not come from the classroom, but from everyone in this room and the larger Georgetown community,” Shapiro said at this year’s SFS Tropaia ceremony. “We were here to support each other and to challenge one another to do things we might have thought were impossible before meeting each other.”

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