Hillary Clinton said she hoped to inspire the young people in Northern Ireland as she was formally installed as chancellor of Queen’s University.
The former US secretary of state, who is the first woman appointed to the role at the Belfast university, attended a ceremony in the city on Friday morning.
It marks the latest chapter in the Clinton family’s long association with Northern Ireland.
In her acceptance speech, she said she "enthusiastically" accepted the position when asked and described the institution as “special”.
“It is a centre for innovation and entrepreneurship in technology, business and health, and an incubator for artists and scientists, leaders and activists," the former US presidential candidate said.
“I’m looking forward to learning much more about this university and then helping to tell the university’s exciting story about the future you will create together."
She said Northern Ireland had made major strides with cross-community peace and gender equality after her first visit to the country with her husband, former US president Bill Clinton, in 1995.
"Northern Ireland has become a symbol of democracy's power to transcend divisions and deliver peace," she said. "We need that beacon of hope more than ever."
Ms Clinton was appointed to the role for a five-year term in early 2020 but her official installation was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
During Friday’s ceremony at the university’s Whitla Hall, honorary degrees were awarded to 14 leading figures in the worlds of business, politics, sport, the arts, policing and education in Northern Ireland.
Among recipients were Derry Girls writer and creator Lisa McGee, former Police Service of Northern Ireland chief constable Sir George Hamilton, and Ireland’s highest-capped female athlete, international hockey player Shirley McCay.
President and vice chancellor of Queen’s, Prof Ian Greer, welcomed Ms Clinton to the fold.
“We are delighted that Secretary Clinton has been able to travel to Belfast to be formally installed as the University’s 11th chancellor,” he said.
“Secretary Clinton is an internationally recognised public servant who has demonstrated a longstanding commitment to Northern Ireland.
“She has an enormous amount to offer the university and will continue to work as a key advocate for Queen’s on the international stage.
“It is also a pleasure today to award honorary degrees to 14 world-leading, highly distinguished individuals. We warmly welcome them to the Queen’s family.”
On Wednesday, Ms Clinton was one of six people who received honorary degrees from the University of Oxford in England at the annual Encaenia ceremony, becoming a Doctor of Civil Law.
In 2018, Mrs Clinton received an honorary doctorate in law from Queen’s for exceptional public service in the US and globally, and for her contribution to peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland.