In recognition of her dedication to social justice, Nonie Brennan, CEO of All Chicago Making Homelessness History, was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws, honoris causa (LLD) at the Friday morning session of Western’s 310th Convocation.
Brennan, whose achievements distributing more than $2.5 million annually in financial assistance for basic needs and securing $65 million in government funding for Chicago’s homeless services each year, spoke to graduates from the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, Brescia, Huron and King’s university colleges, the Faculty of Health Sciences, the Faculty of Law and the Don Wright Faculty of Music, asking them to embark on life’s journey with eyes open for opportunities to help others.
“My parents come from humble beginnings but they wanted to make sure our lives would be very much different. They instilled in us an understanding that privilege comes with responsibility,” Brennan noted.
“Through (my life’s) journey, I came to understand I am a person who has a responsibility to be a voice for people who don’t have the same privilege or opportunities that I have had.”
Brennan offered graduates stories of lives she has encountered, individuals whose journeys took dramatic turns after receiving a helping hand or compassionate ear.
“Sometimes, when we think of who we are becoming as human beings, we have to take a complete turn. Sometimes, we are moving on this journey, it is a painful one. When I think of my own journey, and that journey is not yet done, I think about who I want to become. I am a work in progress,” she said.
“I’ve been a great talker, but what it has taught me is how important it is to listen. I want to be more thoughtful. Who do you want to become?”