Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, the first female president of Liberia, offered the May 20 keynote speech at Spelman College’s graduation.

Ms. Johnson-Sirleaf encouraged the graduating class of about 500 young women to change the world, since positive change ensures the “advancement of human kind.”

She offered Martin Luther King Jr., Oprah Winfrey, Eleanor Roosevelt, Nelson Mandela, Rosa Parks, Pope John Paul II and others as examples of people who have affected large-scale positive change, starting only with small actions.

Ms. Johnson-Sirleaf also discussed Liberia’s political reform, which led to her election in November 2005.

As the first African female head of state, she concentrates her efforts on reducing the country’s debt and corruption and empowering all women, she said. She added that her administration is enforcing laws against gender discrimination and violence.

For more information on Spelman, an historically black women’s college, visit www.spelman.edu

Sandrine Umutoni contributed to this report.