The University of San Francisco honored Egypt’s youth for their role in the pro-democratic overthrow of a repressive regime as well as an outspoken leader for U.S. immigration reform by bestowing on them honorary degrees at the university’s commencement exercises in May.
The now famous Egyptian blogger and tweeter, Mahmoud Salem, better known by his handle @sandmonkey, who took part in the Egyptian revolution, accepted an honorary degree during the School of Nursing’s graduation on behalf of the Egyptian youth who led the way in overthrowing ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s regime using peaceful methods in January and February.
Salem, 29, a graduate of Northeastern University, became news during the uprising as thousands of followers and members of the media followed his writings about events as they happened. Several days into the revolution, Salem revealed his identity, going on television to report that he was beaten by a mob of Mubarak supporters, his car was destroyed, and he was arrested.
Isabel Castillo, an activist and advocate for the DREAM (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors) Act, was honored at the College of Arts and Sciences arts, architecture, performing arts, and social sciences graduation. The DREAM Act would provide legal standing to undocumented college students whose parents brought them to the U.S. illegally when they were children.
USF and the 27 other U.S. Jesuit colleges and universities, and the nation’s Catholic bishops, have petitioned the federal government for a more humane and just immigration policy. Even after graduating with high academic honors in social work, Castillo has been unable to find work in her field without a social security number. Castillo was 6 when her parents brought her to the U.S. from Mexico.
Additional honorary degree recipients included Bienvenido F. Nebres, S.J., the longest serving president of Ateneo de Manila University; Marjorie Balazs ’69, CEO and founder of Balazs Analytical, a leader in semiconductor innovation; Carmen María Cervantes, the co-founder and executive director of Instituto Fe y Vida (Faith and Life Institute); trial attorney Joseph W. Cotchett; and Ming W. Chin ’64, JD ’67, associate justice on the Supreme Court of California and a member of the USF Board of Trustees.