U.S. Secretary of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta reminded Santa Clara University law graduates yesterday that the lessons of his life experiences – from World War II internment camp resident to congressman and cabinet secretary – show that political involvement can make a difference.
Speaking at the commencement ceremonies for the university’s school of law, Mineta was awarded the Peter Burnett Award for Distinguished Public Service. The award noted how Mineta, a former mayor and congressman and current member of the Santa Clara University board of regents, has “inspired others with your courage, strength, and vision as you dismantled barriers of prejudice and precedent.”
“You have spent the last several years of your life learning the rules of the game,” Mineta said, asking the law graduates “to use your knowledge on behalf of your community and on behalf of your nation.”
Mineta and his family had been among the 120,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry forced from their homes and into internment camps by the U.S. government during World War II.
Santa Clara University is a private Catholic, Jesuit university with approximately 4,300 undergraduate and 3,050 graduate students. Its law school was founded in 1912.