Convocation Honoree Urges SMC Community to Work for "Meaningful Change"

"We must be sensitive to the signs of the times and undertake meaningful change," Brother Augustine (Gus) Boquer, FSC, told the Saint Mary's community before he was awarded an honorary doctorate in educational leadership at Convocation last week.

Brother Gus, this year's Convocation speaker, has carried out that advice in his own life since he graduated from Saint Mary's in 19xx with a master's in educational leadership.

He praised Saint Mary's as "a learning institution with a human face and a great heart" and said his experience at the college "made me the person I have been as I have taught minds, touched hearts and transformed lives."

Returning to the Philippines, where he had been a high school principal, he redoubled his commitment to education in the Lasallian spirit. Today, he is president of De La Salle University–Dasmariñas and De La Salle–Health Sciences Institute in the Philippines.

The mentors he met at Saint Mary's made him realize that it is important to practice "faith committed to action" and "not only to create possibilities but to make them happen," he said. In the Philippines, he has created numerous programs to address his country's pressing problems and help those in most need. He shared some of them with the audience, including:

Bahay Pag-asa Youth Centers, where children who have had run-ins with the law find refuge and a safe space to evaluate and change their lives.

A hospice for destitute people who are terminally ill and Maison De la Salle, a home for senior Brothers who need end-of-life care.

Carbon-neutral programs that have made De La Salle University–Dasmariñas the most environmentally friendly institution of higher education in the Philippines.

A fundraising campaign tied to the 2012 centennial of the Lasallian presence in the Philippines whose goal is to provide full scholarships to 20 percent of the students at each Lasallian institution–a tall order, since there are 91,500 students at Lasallian schools in the Philippines.

In conferring the honorary degree, Brother Ronald praised Brother Gus, saying, "You model what a Lasallian educator must be–a person deeply concerned for the welfare of the poor and marginalized." Brother Gus also received gifts from student body president Freddie Silveria, Staff Council Chairperson Sarah Vital and Academic Senate Chairperson Steven Cortright.

The Convocation began with a procession of students, followed by faculty members and administrators dressed in colorful academic regalia. Music filled the Chapel, thanks to Brother Martin Yribarren and the San Francisco Opera Brass, along with the Saint Mary's Chamber Singers, the Sacred Music Choir and the Glee Club, which performed "Seasons of Love" and a lively closing song. Angelica Estrella, Jaclyn Magbitang and Joellen Leonen sang "Chosen Land," the national anthem of the Philippines.

Teresa Castle
College Communications

Photos by Gabrielle Diaz '11