University of South Alabama, Office of Public Relations


December 11, 2004
Contact: Jennifer Ekman at (251) 460-6360

World Statesman, Peace Activist addresses USA Graduates at Fall Commencement

Former President Rodrigo Carazo accepting his Honorary Doctors of Humane Letters Degree
Former President Rodrigo Carazo accepting his Honorary Doctors of Humane Letters Degree from USA President Gordon Moulton.

The Honorable Rodrigo Carazo Odio, the former president of the Republic of Costa Rica, gave the University of South Alabama 2004 fall commencement address at the USA Mitchell Center on Saturday, Dec. 11. The ceremony marked a new beginning for 1,360 graduates and brings the historic number of USA graduates to 54,623.

At its fall commencement ceremony, USA awarded 823 bachelor's, 519 master's, 11 educational specialists and seven doctor of philosophy degrees.

Former President Carazo is a respected activist in global peace initiatives and human rights concerns. He has been honored worldwide for his contributions toward ending the Cold War and beginning an age of reconciliation.

During his speech to the graduates, he said that educating for peace should be a discipline, including research, teaching and international cooperation.

In his concluding remarks, he said, "My dear students, congratulations. Remember that all of us must be the change we seek in the world. Now the world is yours. Take it and help it. Humanity needs you."

As president of the Republic of Costa Rica from 1978 to 1982, Carazo established the Inter-American Institute of Human Rights and the University for Peace. He defended Costa Rican sovereignty and helped Latin America establish its solidarity and independence from world political and economic powers.

On the world stage, he pushed for the establishment of a University for Peace in Costa Rica. After the United Nations General Assembly chartered the unique university, he served as its first president until 1988.

Since 1987, he has been a member of the Council of Freely Elected Heads of Government of the Americas at The Carter Center in Atlanta. Former President Carazo's commitment to fairness and equity for all people has led him to oversee national elections in 14 countries and serve as an adviser to the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization.

During his distinguished career, former President Carazo has worked toward the inclusion of South Korea and North Korea in the United Nations. He also has participated in successful negotiations in the liberation of prisoners of guerilla warfare in Colombia. In recognition of his achievements, former President Carazo received The Great World Peace Award from the Oughtopian Peace Foundation in Seoul, South Korea, in December 2003.

"President Carazo is a shining example of how one person's efforts can make a significant impact on world events," said USA President Gordon Moulton. "It is an honor to have our students meet such an international figure."

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