San Francisco, CA (April 17, 2018) - Award-winning philanthropist and humanitarian Bita Daryabari has been selected as the 2018 recipient of an Honorary Doctorate in Human Letters from her alma mater, Golden Gate University (GGU), where she will also deliver the commencement address on Friday, April 27, 2018. The event takes place at the Paramount Theater , located at 2025 Broadway, Oakland, California, from 10:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. Daryabari will address recipients of graduate degrees in GGU's business, tax and accounting programs, providing insight and guidance for this milestone in their lives.
"Bita Daryabari exemplifies Golden Gate University's mission to prepare individuals to lead and serve," says GGU President David J. Fike, PhD. "She is an inspirational alumnus, not only for what she has achieved in her career, but also for her rich legacy of giving back and helping others get ahead. Bita is at the forefront of supporting immigrants in the United States, and her leadership in expanding access to US education for students from the Middle East is unparalleled. Her establishment of the Bita Daryabari Graduate Fellowship and the Bita Daryabari Scholarship at GGU are only two of many examples of her generosity and commitment to high learning. GGU is honored to have Bita share her wisdom, optimism and enthusiasm for positive change with our 2018 graduates."
Previous commencement honorees at GGU have included California Senator Dianne Feinstein; Diane Irvine, Chairman of the Board, Yelp and Former CEO of Blue Nile (MS 90); and Betty Yee, State Controller (MPA 81).
Daryabari is a graduate of GGU, holding a Masters of Science degree in Telecommunications Management. She was previously honored in 2008 with the Golden Gate University Alumni of the Year Award. She has also endowed the university with the Bita Daryabari Scholarship Program for Women of the Middle East in Business and Law ($1 million).
Daryabari, who has been listed in Gentry magazine's Top 50 Bay Area Philanthropists, says, "As an immigrant who came to the U.S. at the age of 16 with virtually nothing to my name, I worked my way up through the telecommunications industry. I was also fortunate enough to be part of the Google family during its inception, which resulted in my journey into philanthropy. I vowed that I would use my influence and resources to create positive change in the world, as I don't believe any child should have to live in a war zone."
She adds, "I hope to convey to this next generation that anything is possible if one applies him or herself, and I see my story is a living example. I also want to put emphasis on the importance of our daily intentions and relationships. These are the most important aspects that determine the outcome of our life stories."
Daryabari founded and is the executive director of Pars Equality Center, the only non-profit organization providing comprehensive social, legal and community services to the Iranian-American community. Recently, her Center, along with The Iranian American Bar Association and the Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans, filed an amicus ('friend of the court") brief with the United States Supreme Court in support of the challenge to the Trump administration's third travel ban.
Daryabari has always held a passion for education and the arts. She created the Bita Daryabari Endowment in Persian Letters at Stanford University ($6.5 million), where The Annual Bita Prize in Literature has become the most coveted prize in the realm of Persian letters. She also gifted a $5 million endowment to the University of California, Berkeley, to further the study of Iranian languages, literature, history, arts and culture.
Other educational endowments by Daryabari, include UC Davis ($1.5 million); the University of Cambridge, England ($2 million), to support continuing research on the Shahnama, or The Book of Kings, the emblematic text of Persian historical culture; and contributions to the UC San Francisco Mission Bay ($1.5 million) for neuroscience research.
About Bita Daryabari
A graduate of Golden Gate University, Bita Daryabari, an award-winning philanthropist and humanitarian, has emerged as one of the most beloved and cherished leaders of the Iranian American community. From the beginning of her professional life, her work has been accompanied by her avid interest in the world of literature, poetry and art. She created the Bita Daryabari Endowment in Persian Letters at Stanford University, where The Annual Bita Prize in Literature has become the most coveted prize in the realm of Persian letters. In 2010, she founded Pars Equality Center where she is also the Executive Director. Her Unique Zan Foundation is dedicated to supporting the education of women abroad-from building orphanages for Afghan children to schools in the Middle East. She was named the World Affairs Council Honoree of the Year in 2015. Other honors include the Ellis Island Medal of Honor (2012); United Nations Appreciation Award for Outstanding Leadership, Commitment and Support of the UN and Achieving the UN Millennium Development Goals (2011); PAAIA Philanthropist of the Year Award (2010); and Golden Gate University's Alumni of the Year Award (2008). Daryabari's multi-faceted philanthropy is founded on her simple idea that creativity is the only way to alleviate suffering and ennoble our minds to better comprehend the human condition.
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