SF State honors Nikkei with honorary degrees

(From left) Hatsune (Arita) Fukuchi, Helen (Nitta) Hori and Kaya Ruth (Kitagawa) Sugiyama were honored at San Francisco State University’s (SFSU) Hall of Fame event on May 21. The women, whose education at the university was interrupted during World War II by their incarceration in concentration camps, received their honorary degrees. SFSU President Robert A. Corrigan, who presented the degrees, stands behind them. The women chose to attend the reception rather than the commencement exercises that were held the following day. photo by L. Gino De Grandis/courtesy of San Francisco State University

Nineteen students of Japanese descent were among those honored at San Francisco State University’s (SFSU) 109th commencement held on May 22 at Cox Stadium.

More than 8,000 students — including 115 veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces — received their degrees before an audience of more than 20,000 guests.

SFSU President Robert A. Corrigan said, “We believe it is our responsibility to educate the hearts as well as the minds. We are proud to be a university of activism, of personal responsibility…Where but at San Francisco State would you find a university whose faculty has made a commitment to social justice and equity the first of its fundamental goals?”

During the ceremony, family members of two of the 19 students were recognized on behalf of their relatives who were removed from the university during World War II and imprisoned in concentration camps.

Three of the Nikkei students received their honorary degrees at the Alumni Hall of Fame induction ceremony that was held the previous day.

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