Hilda Chen Apuy '44
May 28, 2006
Hilda Chen Apuy, class of 1944, you are one of the most prominent scholars and public intellectuals in your native Costa Rica. As a pioneer in the field of Asian Studies, you helped shape your discipline as well as your institution, the University of Costa Rica. You have used the platform afforded to you as one of Costa Rica's leading thinkers to speak out on matters of politics, culture, and public interest.
The daughter of an Asian father and Latina mother, you have firsthand experience with multiculturalism. You were raised in Costa Rica and educated at institutions around the world. Your studies brought you here to Mount Holyoke in 1943, and on to Iowa, India, Mexico, England, and the Netherlands over the next 25 years. You began teaching at the University of Costa Rica in 1948, whence you honed your specialization in Asian cultures. You founded the university's Sanskrit language program as well as modern Asian history curriculum. You are an authority on Asian art history and are even a published poet yourself. Over the course of your impressive career, your groundbreaking scholarship took you around the globe; you published your work far and wide, and even presented it to the public in radio programs. Your scholarship earned your recognition in Japan's Order of the Sacred Treasure in 1985, making you the first Latin American woman honored by the Japanese government. You were awarded Taiwan's Medal of Culture in 1989. In 2003, Costa Rica awarded you its highest distinction of life accomplishment: the Magón Prize.
Like you, your scholarship is a bridge between East and West. You have dedicated your career to fostering intercultural understanding and dialogue--a vital endeavor in today's globalized, multicultural, and multiethnic world. We are proud that we at Mount Holyoke can call you one of our own. It is thus with great honor that I confer upon you the degree doctor of humane letters, honoris causa.
Honorary Degree Recipient Address
By Hilda Chen Apuy '44