SF State News {University Communications}

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Honorary degree awarded to World War II internee

September 23, 2009 -- The California State University Board of Trustees has voted to grant honorary bachelor's degrees to Japanese Americans who were enrolled at CSU campuses and forced to internment camps during World War II. Today, the first honorary degree was awarded posthumously to Aiko Nishi Uwate, a Japanese American woman who studied music at SF State before being sent to Gila River relocation camp in Arizona. At a ceremony in Long Beach, the degree was accepted by Uwate's daughter, Vivian Uwate Nelson.

Photo of California State University Chancellor Charles B. Reed, presenting an honorary degree certificate to Vivian Uwate Nelson, daughter of Aiko Nishi Uwate.

California State University Chancellor Charles B. Reed (left), and Vivian Uwate Nelson (right) daughter of Aiko Nishi Uwate. Photo credit: California State University

Aiko Nishi Uwate was one of 19 SF State students of Japanese ancestry who were pulled from their classes under U.S. military and government orders and forced to live in internment camps during World War II.  SF State recognized these students as honored alumni at the campus' 1998 commencement exercises and in 2002 the campus opened a Garden of Remembrance to honor all Japanese Americans who were interned during World War II.

The CSU is asking for public assistance in identifying individuals who qualify for the honorary degree. Former CSU students (or families of students) whose studies were interrupted due to the internment can call (562) 951-4723 or e-mail nisei@calstate.edu.

-- Elaine Bible


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