By Siafa Lewis

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Madeleine Albright, our country’s first female secretary of state, has died. The 84-year-old lost her battle with cancer.

Albright was a central figure in President Bill Clinton’s administration.

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In 2012, President Barack Obama awarded her the medal of freedom.

Albright was a mentor to many current and former American statesmen and women. But her influence didn’t stop there.

Albright lived a full life, which included meeting with, inspiring and mentoring countless other women to, like her, believe in themselves and reach for the stars.

Dr. Donna Patterson was an inaugural faculty member of the Madeleine C. Albright Institute at Wellesley College, Alrbight’s alma mater.

“Madeleine Albright was a very interesting person. I found her to be friendly, I found her to be accessible. But I think she’s also interesting just given her historical significance to the country,” Patterson, now a professor and chair at Delaware State University, said.

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When you’re the first ever at something, it’s where conversations about your legacy begin. But it’s not where Albright’s ends.

“One of her legacies will actually be the Albright Institute, which I was a part of when I was at Wellesley College. And the students that come out of this program and the mark that they are already making and will continue to make in the world,” Patterson said.

Patterson and Secretary Albright met through the Albright Institute. It’s where she did and will continue, through its existence, to aid the women leaders of today and tomorrow.

“She mentored a lot of women. She was very committed to women having equal presence,” Patterson said.

To hear Patterson tell it, Albright truly cared about these young women.

“One of the things that I found gratifying as a professor at Wellesley College, watching her act with the students was really just how accessible she was to them. And how interested she was in their futures,” Patterson said.

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Patterson also said that when Albright entered a room she had a certain presence about her and that only by sharing space with her could you feel that presence. She explains it as knowing that this person was going to do important things and she certainly did.