Julián Castro to serve as speaker for spring 2017 commencement; mother Rosie Castro to earn honorary degree

Photo: Twitter

Julián Castro, former Mayor of San Antonio and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), will serve as commencement speaker as OLLU confers degrees for more than 500 undergraduate and graduate students during commencement exercises on Sunday, May 14, at Freeman Coliseum. Additionally, Castro’s mother and OLLU alumna, Rosie Castro, will be receiving an honorary doctoral degree during the ceremony.

Castro was raised on the West Side of San Antonio by his mother, Maria del Rosario “Rosie” Castro, along with his twin brother, U.S. Congressman Joaquin Castro who represents the 20th District of Texas. He attended Jefferson High School, earned a bachelor’s degree from Stanford University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School.

During Castro’s tenure as Secretary of HUD, the Federal Housing Administration lowered mortgage insurance premiums to make homeownership more affordable for responsible families. In July of 2015, President Obama helped launch one of Secretary Castro’s signature projects, ConnectHome, which accelerated Internet adoption in 28 communities, providing broadband and electronic devices to children living in public and assisted housing.

During his tenure as mayor of San Antonio, Castro became known as a national leader in urban development. In 2010, San Antonio launched the “Decade of Downtown,” an initiative to spark investment in San Antonio’s center city and older neighborhoods. This effort attracted $350 million in private sector investment and produced more than 2,400 housing units in the area.

Castro gained national attention in 2012 when he was the first Hispanic to deliver the keynote address at a Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. In addition, he was named to the World Economic Forum’s list of Young Global Leaders in 2010, and, later that year, Time magazine placed him on its “40 under 40” list of rising stars in American politics.

Previously, Castro worked at Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld before starting his own law practice. Castro and his wife, Erica, have a daughter, Carina, and a son, Cristian.

Photo: Mujeres Latinas En Accion

Maria Del Rosario “Rosie” Castro rose from humble beginnings on the West Side of San Antonio to become a distinguished community organizer, city leader and inspiration to many in South Texas and beyond.

The daughter of an orphaned Mexican immigrant who had a fourth grade education, Castro, as a young girl, observed the stark inequalities between living conditions on the West Side and those in Alamo Heights, where her mother worked as a maid and cook.

After attending Little Flower Catholic School and earning a scholarship to Our Lady of the Lake College, Castro organized the “Young Democrats” on campus. She advocated for better education, political representation and city services in predominantly low-income neighborhoods.

She graduated from OLL in 1971 with a bachelor’s in Spanish, and in 1971 became one of the first Chicanas to run for City Council. She served as Bexar County chair for a new political party, La Raza Unida, and gave voice to many Mexican Americans. Rosie earned a master’s degree in environmental management from the University of Texas at San Antonio.

In 1974, Castro gave birth to twin sons, Julián and Joaquin, raised them as a single mother and took them to political rallies. The twins grew up on the West Side, graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School, not far from OLLU, earned undergraduate degrees from Stanford and graduated from Harvard Law School.

She served her community in many ways: as an adjunct professor at UTSA; as a consultant for the Annie E. Casey Foundation; as Ombudsperson/special assistant to the CEO of the San Antonio Housing Authority; and as interim Dean of Student Affairs and Director of the Center for Academic Transitions at Palo Alto College. She retired in 2013.

Presently, Rosie continues to serve her alma mater. She is a member of the executive committee for the 2018 national symposium commemorating the 50th anniversary of the historic 1968 U.S. Commission on Civil Rights Hearings, regarding issues faced by Mexican Americans in the Southwest.

Graduation celebrations and preparations begin Friday with Ring Blessing and Graduation Liturgy.

The schedule of events is as follows:
Ring Blessing – 12 p.m. – Sacred Heart Chapel
Students will have the opportunity to have their rings or other items individually blessed. Graduation regalia are not required.

Graduation Liturgy –3 p.m. – Sacred Heart Chapel
Graduating seniors and their families and friends are invited to celebrate Mass. Graduation regalia are required.

Commencement Ceremony – 4:30 p.m. – Freeman Coliseum
3201 E. Houston Street, 78219