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Actor, social justice champion George Takei to be among four honorary doctorate recipients at 69th Commencement

June 2, 2016

George Takei, a noted actor and tireless advocate for community engagement and social justice, will be among four prominent individuals who will receive honorary doctorate degrees during Cal State LA's 69th Commencement ceremonies.

Takei grew up near Cal State LA in Los Angeles' Boyle Heights neighborhood and is best known for playing the character of Mr. Sulu on the original, award-winning television series Star Trek. He will receive an honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters and be the keynote speaker during the College of Natural and Social Sciences undergraduate ceremony at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, June 10.

The following distinguished individuals, all of them Cal State LA alumni, will also receive honorary doctorate degrees and deliver keynote addresses:

  • Maria Contreras-Sweet is an accomplished entrepreneur who serves on President Barack Obama’s Cabinet as the administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration. Raised in Baldwin Park, Contreras-Sweet has served for decades in the public and private sectors to promote economic initiatives in underserved communities. She will receive an honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters during the College of Business and Economics ceremony at 8 a.m. on Friday, June 10.
  • Ofelia Esparza is an esteemed artist and educator who has been widely recognized for her contributions to the arts, education, community and cultural pride. A pioneer of the Chicano civil rights movement, she helped instill Chicano cultural pride in school children when she began her teaching career in East Los Angeles in 1974. She will receive an honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters during the Charter College of Education ceremony at 8 a.m. on Saturday, June 11.
  • Kent Twitchell is an extraordinary artist whose murals have beautified Los Angeles and cities across the nation. His work has been collected by the Smithsonian, the Chicago Art Institute, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.  For decades he has lived in Los Angeles, where more than a dozen of his murals grace spaces across the city. The Los Angeles Times, recognizing Twitchell's relationship to the city, reported that "the city shaped him as much as he shaped its urban landscape." He will receive an honorary degree of Doctor of Fine Arts during the College of Arts and Letters ceremony at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, June 11.

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