Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright speaks during the second day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, July 26, 2016. Albright has died of cancer, her family said Wednesday, March 23, 2022. Credit: J. Scott Applewhite / AP

WASHINGTON — Madeleine Albright, the first female U.S. secretary of state, has died of cancer, her family said Wednesday. She was 84.

President Bill Clinton chose Albright as America’s top diplomat in 1996, and she served in that capacity for the last four years of the Clinton administration.

At the time, she was the highest-ranking woman in the history of the U.S. government. She was not in the line of succession for the presidency, however, because she was a native of Czechoslovakia.

Albright, an honorary degree recipient at Bowdoin College, spoke to the graduating class of 2013 at the Brunswick school, imploring the students not to give in to self pity.

She noted that many graduating students may be feeling helpless from the burdens left to their generation, but self pity would not solve those problems.

She also encouraged students to meet others with compassion, and strive for collective actions that could improve the lives of students individually and within a larger community.

“She was surrounded by family and friends,” her family announced on Twitter.

BDN writer Leela Stockley contributed to this story.