Whittier College Announces Commencement Speakers

Whittier College News Release

For Immediate Release - April 2
Media Contact: Kristin Tranquada (562) 907-4974
Reference: 97-98/88


Antonia Hernandez, president and general counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) will be the featured speaker at Whittier College's 95th Commencement ceremonies, to be held Friday, May 22, at 9 a.m. in the college's Harris Amphitheater.

MALDEF is a national litigation and advocacy organization that uses the law, community education, and research to protect the civil rights of Latinos. Hernandez was elected MALDEF's president in 1985.

An expert in civil rights and immigration issues, Hernandez began her professional career as a staff attorney with the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice in 1974. In 1977, she became the directing attorney for the Lincoln Heights office of the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, where she administered a six-attorney staff. In 1979 and 1980, Hernandez worked as staff counsel to the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary, drafting bills and briefing committee members on national issues.

As part of Whittier's Commencement ceremonies, Hernandez will receive the honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree. Also receiving honorary degrees will be Dr. John Arcadi, Zilpha Keatley Snyder, and Donald E. ("Bill") Wood.

Arcadi, a former Whittier College faculty member, is a pioneer in studies on prostate cancer. His current research focuses on the drug Rhodamine-123, which has shown promise for the treatment of advanced prostate cancer and is in the final stages of gaining FDA approval.

Snyder, a member of Whittier's Class of 1948, is an award-winning author of 36 books for children and young adults, including Newbery Honor Books The Egypt Game (1967), The Headless Cupid (1971) and The Witches of Worm (1972). Her most recent book, Gib Rides Home (1998), is an orphan's tale loosely based on stories of her father's childhood. Booklist called the book "a touching, satisfying tribute to Snyder's father and to all children who face difficult lives with courage."

Wood, a longtime Whittier College trustee, is president of Community Pontiac-Honda in Whittier. He was also one of the organizers of Whittier Guarantee Savings and Loan (now merged with Imperial Corporation of America) and served for many years as its board chairman. His community activities include leadership positions with the Salvation Army Advisory Board, the Boy Scouts, the Whittier Planning Commission, the Whittier Chamber of Commerce, and the Presbyterian Intercommunity Hospital Board.

Located 18 miles east of Los Angeles, Whittier College is a four-year, independent liberal arts college offering traditional liberal arts majors and strong pre-professional programs taught in the context of the liberal arts. Whittier Law School is located on a separate campus in Costa Mesa.

Whittier College Office of Communications
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