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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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Candidates for the six SFS graduate degrees received their diplomas during Commencement exercises Friday morning for the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.  Students earning the Master of Science in Foreign Service (MSFS), the Master of Arts in Security Studies (SSP), the Master of Arts in Arab Studies (MAAS), the Master of Arts in German and European Studies (MAGES), the Master of Arts in Latin American Studies (MALAS) and the Master of Arts in Russian and East European Studies (REES) were recognized during the ceremonies on Healy Lawn.

Historian Richard White told 2011 Georgetown graduate students at their commencement ceremony May 20 that it will take time to master the “intellectual toolkit” they received at the university.

White encouraged the more than 1,000 Graduate School of Arts and Sciences students to appreciate interdisciplinary work and to collaborate with other scholars over the course of their lives.

Dean Timothy A. Barbari presented professor Victor Cha with the 2011 Distinguished Achievement in Research Award.

Cha, the D.S. Song-Korea Foundation Chair in Asian Studies and Government in the School of Foreign Service, was honored for receiving three prestigious external awards – the National Asia Research Fellowship; the U.S. Department of Education’s Title VI Grant, and a four-year $1.2 million grant from the Education Ministry of Korea.

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The Georgetown Leadership Seminar -- SFS' yearly executive education program -- was a success again this year.  Among participants:  Peter Taylor, former Minister of Legal Affairs of Trinidad and Tobago.  Taylor's participation was noted in the T&T Guardian:

On this occasion the focus of the discussions were U.S. statecraft and the Washington policy-making environment, foreign policy challenges and opportunities, global issues and the international economy. Speakers included School of Foreign Service Dean Carol Lancaster; former Senator Chuck Hagel; former USAID Administrator Andrew Natsios; journalist and GLS alum John Walcott; international trade expert Marc Busch; and many more.

The Georgetown Leadership Seminar is run by SFS' Institute for the Study of Diplomacy.

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