Suffolk native receives honorary doctorate
Published 9:24 pm Thursday, May 19, 2016
A Suffolk native was among four people who received honorary doctorate degrees during the Howard University commencement on May 7.
The group of four that included Dr. L.D. Britt also included President Barack Obama, who delivered the commencement address to more than 2,300 graduates and more than 25,000 family members at the Washington, D.C., campus.
“I felt that I was in a good class, and I was deeply humbled by it,” said Britt, a professor of surgery at Eastern Virginia Medical School.
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Britt said he felt his life had come “full circle.” Britt’s first visiting professorship was at Howard University, and he was once operated on by a Howard-trained surgeon, the son of the operator of Suffolk’s Hoffler Clinic, Dr. Oswald W. Hoffler.
“That meant a lot to me,” Britt said of the recognition by Howard.
Britt said he gives “a lot of credit to Suffolk” in everything he does. He was valedictorian of Booker T. Washington High School and went on to obtain his bachelor’s degree at the University of Virginia and attend Harvard Medical School.
“They set my course and my trajectory, and I will never forget that,” he said. “When they launched me from Booker T., I was ready for U.Va., and I was subsequently ready for Harvard.”
Britt said Howard made an “astute decision” to grant Obama the honorary doctorate in science.
“It was in recognition of what he has done in health care,” Britt said.
He also praised the other two honorary doctorate recipients from the same ceremony: actress and activities Cicely Tyson, who received an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree; and Horace G. Dawson, a diplomat and ambassador and pioneering member of the U.S. Foreign Service and founding director of Howard’s Ralph J. Bunche International Affairs Center, who received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree.
“Sister Tyson is 91 years old, but you would never know it looking at her,” he said. “She is sharp as a tack.”