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.