May 23, 2003 - Whittier Daily News: Vasquez to receive honorary degree from University of La Verne

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Headlines: Peace Corps Headlines - 2003: May 2003 Peace Corps Headlines: May 23, 2003 - Whittier Daily News: Vasquez to receive honorary degree from University of La Verne

By Admin1 (admin) on Friday, May 23, 2003 - 10:17 am: Edit Post

Vasquez to receive honorary degree from University of La Verne

Read and comment on this story from the Whittier Daily News on the honorary degree that Director Vasquez will receive this weekend from the University of La Verne at:

La Verne readies for commencement*

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La Verne readies for commencement
By Jason Newell, Staff Writer

LA VERNE -- The Peace Corps director and the founder and director of AVID will receive honorary degrees from the University of La Verne at this weekend's spring commencement ceremonies.

The university will award honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degrees to Peace Corps Director Gaddi Vasquez and AVID Director Mary Catherine Swanson, both of whom will deliver commencement addresses during the weekend.

The speakers were chosen to receive the honor based on their long careers of service and for embodying the values of the university, said Al Clark, associate vice president for academic affairs.

Vasquez, the first Hispanic American to serve as director of the Peace Corps, will address undergraduates at Ortmayer Stadium on Saturday. More than 330 traditional undergraduate students will graduate Saturday.

Vasquez began his public service career 22 years ago as a police officer in Orange. Since then, he has served in the administrations of three California governors and was appointed twice by former President Bush to federal commissions.

Like Vasquez, many of the university's students are the first in their families to attend college, and many are Hispanic, as the university's student body reflects the ethnic makeup of Los Angeles, Clark said.

Swanson, who created the AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) program in 1980 to get more underserved middle and high school students into colleges, will speak to graduate students Sunday.

Swanson's program now serves more than 70,000 students across the U.S. who might not otherwise have an opportunity at a postsecondary education, providing them with college tutors who prepare them to enter college.

In partnership with AVID, the University of La Verne places about 30 of its students per year into AVID classrooms in the Monrovia, Upland, Pomona, Claremont, West Covina and Arcadia school districts. The university received the 2002 Special Recognition Award for its involvement with the Los Angeles County AVID program.

Clark said Swanson's commitment to teachers makes her an appropriate choice for the commencement ceremony.

"The University of La Verne has a long tradition of producing educators," Clark said. "We're known certainly throughout Southern California for the teachers we produce."

Congressman David Dreier, R-Glendora, will speak at the College of Law Hooding and Commencement Sunday at the La Verne Church of the Brethren.

Jason Newell can be reached by e-mail at jason.newell at or by phone at (909) 483-9338.

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