May 21, 2010 – Students need to nurture their values, Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla (G’89) told the nearly 400 graduates of the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service (SFS) at their commencement May 21.
“Values are living organisms,” she said. “They must be cared for in order to endure. They must be placed at the center of our lives.” The first female president of the Latin American country also talked about the importance free societies.
Respect for Freedom
“Our freedom depends on the respect of the freedom of others,” she said. “Our individual survival depends on our loyalty and our responsibility to others. And we must live at peace with ourselves in order to grow to our full potential.”
Chinchilla cited advances in Costa Rica that reflect the country's values – its commitment to biodiversity, reputation as the first high-tech exporter in Latin America and its high literacy and life expectancy rates. Georgetown presented the Georgetown Public Policy Institute graduate with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters.
Dedicated to Democracy
Erick Langer, a professor and director of the Center for Latin American Studies, read the honorary degree citation.
“Today, in recognizing Laura Chinchilla Miranda, the first woman to be president of Costa Rica, Georgetown University honors a life dedicated to building democracy and community,” he said. Chinchilla’s career in public service includes work as a consultant on judicial and public security reform in Latin America and Africa on behalf of the U.S. Agency for International Development, the U.N. Development Program and the Inter-American Development Bank.
Before she was elected president, she served as one of two vice-presidents elected under the second Arias administration.
Choosing a Path
“I think she really does exemplify a lot of what the SFS tries to teach us,” Frank Papalia (SFS’11) said after Chinchilla's speech.
In her closing remarks, she said it was her “fondest hope” that the students “find the freedom to choose your path, the solidarity of your loved ones to pursue it and the peace that comes with knowing that you are well on you way.”