Using graphic examples of ethnic fighting in the world, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Madeleine K. Albright yesterday urged graduates of the Johns Hopkins University to speak out and stand up for the rights of others.
From a stage adorned by yellow mums underneath a tent on campus, the university's 4,075 graduates were honored by Hopkins officials while relatives and friends snapped photographs and videotaped a commencement ceremony that lasted nearly three hours.
"You -- the class of 1994 -- will represent a new generation of Americans at a time of great turbulence and constant change," Ms. Albright said. "We will need a unified sense of national purpose. Surely, [the purpose] revolves around a commitment to individual liberty, respect for individual prerogatives and tolerance for the rights and opinions and personal choices of others."
In a 15-minute address, Ms. Albright described some of her more somber journeys representing the United Nations in Sarajevo, Cambodia and Africa. She used the examples, in part, to urge the graduates to "act with courage and faith" in their adult lives.
"Thousands of [Bosnian] families that once gathered around kitchen tables assemble now at cemeteries," she said. "One has only to scan the horizon from the blood-swollen rivers of Rwanda to the battle-scarred mountains of Caucasus to the splintered remains of the former Yugoslavia and Soviet Union to understand: Freedom based on tolerance is the most essential and the most endangered principle in the world today." The ambassador, a member of President Clinton's Cabinet and the National Security Council, told the graduates that she once briefly attended Hopkins' School of Advanced International Studies. She received a bachelor's degree from Wellesley College in 1959. She earned a master's degree in 1968 and a doctorate in 1976 from Columbia University's department of public law and government.
Yesterday Ms. Albright was one of five recipients of honorary degrees from Hopkins, a 118-year-old institution that enrolls about 16,000 full- and part-time students on campuses in the Baltimore area and in China and Italy. Other honorary degrees were awarded to state Sen. Clarence Blount, Hopkins School of Medicine Dean Emeritus Richard S. Ross, philanthropist Anne M. Pinkard and former Hopkins School of Public Health Dean D. A. Henderson.
The university's 417 doctoral students were the only ones given the opportunity to receive their diplomas during the ceremony.
Some of the former undergraduates, who picked up their diplomas at other times, were already looking forward to work on higher degrees.
Hyacinth Morgan, 33, who earned a bachelor's of science degree, said she aspires to become a doctor and enter medical school at Yale University in 1995.
The mother of two teen-agers, Ms. Morgan entered the United States illegally in 1982 from Jamaica and worked as a housekeeper before gaining her green card and eventually enrolling at Hopkins. She graduated with straight A's after studying math and biology.
"I feel wonderful today," Ms. Morgan said. "I don't think there's anyone else who's as excited about graduation as me."
David Dante, 22, from Harford County who earned a civil engineering degree, said he plans to go to graduate school to study disposal methods of hazardous and radioactive waste.
"My immediate hopes are to finish my research and then go off and come up with a thesis that will make a contribution to society."