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Barry University to Bestow Honorary Degree on Sister Patricia Siemen, OP, JD, Prioress

May 2, 2022, Miami, Florida – Sister Patricia Siemen, OP, JD, Prioress of the Adrian Dominican Congregation, is among five leaders who will receive honorary degrees during the May 6, 2022, Commencement ceremony at Barry University.

During the celebration at loanDepot park in Miami, graduates from the 2021-2022 academic year will come together as the Barry University community honors their academic achievements as well as the accomplishments of a group of inspirational leaders. This year’s Commencement theme is “Celebrating Service and Dedication to Community.”

“Our alumni achieve incredible success in their careers while carrying with them our commitments to fostering inclusive communities and advancing social justice through collaborative service,” said Dr. Michael Allen, President of Barry University. “We are thrilled to send this class of graduates off, inspired by the stories of a group of accomplished leaders who are changing communities through their work.”

This year marks the first year of Barry University’s newly reformatted Graduation Celebration Weekend. Graduates will have their degrees officially conferred at this University Celebration on May 6. Throughout the weekend, each University School and College will host a more intimate ceremony, during which graduates will cross the stage and be individually recognized. 

The following individuals will receive the Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters as part of the ceremony:

Sister Patricia Siemen, OP, JD, Prioress, Adrian Dominican Sisters
The Prioress of the Adrian Dominican Sisters, Sister Patricia Siemen is a passionate voice for the rights of all creation. She is the founder and former executive director of the Center for Earth Jurisprudence at Barry University School of Law, an initiative advancing laws and policies designed to protect the systems, species and entities that sustain life on Earth and advocating for the recognition that all creatures and natural systems have their own rights to “exist and flourish.”

A civil attorney, Sister Pat’s early ministries included being a community organizer in rural Tennessee, where she assisted disenfranchised African Americans, and working in a parish ministry with the Latino community.

She has also been a legal services attorney for migrant workers in south Florida; a staff attorney for the Voting Section of the Civil Rights Division, United States Department of Justice; and director of the Earth Ethics Institute at Miami-Dade College. 

Sister Pat will receive an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters, which will be awarded in absentia.

Joy Taylor, FOX Sports Radio Host
A Barry University alumna and an accomplished national media personality, Joy Taylor exemplifies the University mission, achieving professionally while putting into practice the values we live and teach at Barry.

Joy co-hosts Fox Sports’ “The Herd with Colin Cowherd” as well as the popular Joy Taylor Show on Fox Sports Radio Saturdays 2:00-4:00 p.m. ET. Before catapulting to the national stage, she spent several years in Miami radio. She also previously served as the host of “Thursday Night Live” and “Fantasy Football Today” on CBSSports.com. 

Taylor got her start in radio at Barry University though, hosting her own radio show, “The Noise,” on the University station while earning her degree.

Last year, Joy established a scholarship for Barry University students pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Communication disciplines in order to support the next generation of journalists and broadcasters. She recently established the Joy Taylor Foundation. Joy will address the graduates as Commencement Speaker. 

Maximo “Max” Alvarez, President, Sunshine Gas Distributors, Inc.
A self-made success story, Max Alvarez immigrated to the United States from Cuba alone at the age of 13 as part of Operation “Pedro Pan.” Today, he is the owner and founder of Sunshine Gas Distributors, one of the largest gasoline distributors in Florida. 

He has served in a variety of capacities with the Florida Petroleum Marketers Association, Hope for Vision, the Transplant Foundation, The First Tee, the Miami Children’s Hospital, and the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Additionally, he founded the Centro Hispano Catolico, a day care center for children in need, and serves as a trustee of the Pedro Pan Group and Florida State University. 

Most recently, Max committed $2 million to the Barry University Institute for Immigration Studies, an academic center dedicated to the study and understanding of the multicultural South Florida immigrant experience. Among other things, this gift establishes the Monsignor Bryan Walsh Directorship at the Institute.

Dr. Marvin Dunn, President, Miami Center for Racial Justice
A former naval officer, a renowned historian, an expert on race and ethnic issues, and a community advocate, Dr. Marvin Dunn has dedicated his career to preserving and sharing Florida’s Black history. He taught in the Department of Psychology at Florida International University for more than three decades, retiring as Chairperson of that Department. 

Marvin wrote Black Miami in the Twentieth Century and A History of Florida: Through Black Eyes. He also co-authored The Miami Riot of 1980: Crossing the Bounds and is the producer and director of three documentary films. Additionally, he possesses an extensive collection of photographs and artifacts documenting the history of Blacks in Florida and the violent Rosewood Massacre in Levy County in 1923.

In 2021, Marvin, along with a group of community advocates for racial justice and peace, founded the Miami Center for Racial Justice. The Center focuses on preserving and telling the stories of racial violence in Florida and working toward racial reconciliation and healing.

Cheryl Little, Esq., Americans for Immigrant Justice Co-Founder and Executive Director
Cheryl Little, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Americans for Immigrant Justice (AI Justice), is a pioneer and leading expert on immigration law. A steadfast human rights advocate, her work in immigration dates back to the mid-1980’s, when she graduated from law school and began working at the Haitian Refugee Center. 

In 1996, Cheryl co-founded AI Justice, an organization that champions rights of immigrants including unaccompanied children and survivors of trafficking, and has served as Executive Director since its inception. 

She has received numerous honors and awards for her work and has authored several publications on immigration.

Cheryl will receive an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters.

 

Feature photo: Sister Patricia Siemen, OP, JD, Prioress of the Congregation and Founding Director of the Center for Earth Jurisprudence at Barry University School of Law, attends a meeting of the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature in Ecuador in January 2014. She will receive an honorary degree from Barry University in absentia on May 6.

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