On Feb. 17, Philippine President Benigno S. Aquino III, a staunch defender of democracy and human rights, received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Loyola Marymount University.

The 15th president of the Republic of the Philippines, Aquino was honored in recognition of his dedication to his country, his integrity and his embodiment of a Jesuit education. He is a graduate of Ateneo de Manila University, a school founded by the Jesuits.

“President Aquino represents precisely what we as educators mean about helping our students become women and men for and with others,” says LMU President Timothy Law Snyder, Ph.D. “His deep commitment to the Philippine people is a model from which each of us can learn.”

Aquino told those gathered for the ceremony about his Jesuit education, saying, “We were taught not just that this was the right thing to do, but also that it is a moral imperative.”

Mayor of Los Angeles Eric Garcetti was on hand to welcome Aquino.

“This legacy of Filipinos, who have been here [in Los Angeles] from the very beginning, who have enriched the city’s vibrant culture and have strengthened the politics and economy that we have here, has helped position L.A. as the creative crossroads of the world,” said Garcetti.