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McAleese to deliver Fordham commencement

By Ray O'Hanlon

President Mary McAleese will deliver Fordham University's 165th commencement speech during her visit to New York next week. McAleese will speak at the Bronx university on Saturday, May 22.

The Irish head of state will additionally receive an honorary doctorate of laws from the Jesuit-run college.

"We are deeply honored to have President McAleese deliver the 165th Commencement address at Fordham," said the university's president, Fr. Joseph McShane.

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"In her leadership, integrity and scholarship, President McAleese is the model to which our graduates should aspire. We look forward to bringing her into the Fordham family," McShane said.

The Fordham speech is but one of a number of high profile appearances by McAleese who will be in New York from Thursday until Sunday, the 23rd.

On Sunday, McAleese will attend a Great Hunger commemoration at the Irish Hunger Memorial in Battery Park City. Earlier in the day, the president, along with her husband, Dr. Martin McAleese, will attended a ceremony at a Jewish temple on Manhattan's Upper West Side.

The ceremony, hosted by Congregation Shearith Israel, is to mark the generosity of the New York Jewish community towards the people of Ireland during the famine.

The Irish Consulate will host a community reception for the president on the Friday of the four day presidential stay.

Born in Belfast, McAleese was a barrister and law professor before becoming the second woman president of Ireland, a post she has held since 1997.

McAleese is the world's first woman to succeed another woman as an elected head of state and was recently listed as number 74 on Forbes magazine's list of the 100 most powerful women in the world.

[PHOTOCALL: President McAleese speaking at an event in Dublin on Monday.]