Buddhist monk graduates from Mt. SAC in Walnut


He may not mean to, but Bowala Rakkitha stands out among his fellow students at Mt. San Antonio College. He dresses differently, his values are unusual, and he speaks with a distinctive accent.

When the Venerable Rakkitha, a Buddhist monk from Sri Lanka, walked at graduation last week during Mt. SAC’s 67th commencement, it was to be yet another leg of a most improbable journey.

“I never thought I would come to the United States and I never thought I would attend a university here,” said the 37-year-old monk, who is receiving associate degrees in psychology and liberal arts and will transfer to UCLA next fall.

During his time as a student at Mt. SAC, Rakkitha has generated a certain amount of curiosity, if not celebrity. The first question is usually related to the most obvious distinction.

“Everyone wants to know why I dress like this,” he said, patting down his red robe, his day-to-day attire and more importantly a symbol of the vow he made to live a simple life as monk. Then there are the more curious peers.

Read more in MONK.