SALT LAKE CITY — The University of Utah has selected three people to receive honorary doctorate degrees. The U. board of trustees will honor Thomas D. Rees, Apa Sherpa and Andrea Brantzeg Thomas during its annual commencement ceremony on May 2.
Rees will receive a doctorate of science. A Utah native, Rees graduated from the U., receiving an M.D. in 1948 and worked in the field of plastic surgery. In 1957, he co-founded the Flying Doctor Service of East Africa. For the next five decades he traveled to east Africa, bringing specialist surgical care to remote areas. The Flying Doctors were the first to bring reconstructive surgery to east Africa, improving the lives of countless children and families experiencing extreme suffering and disfigurement.
Apa Sherpa will receive a doctorate of humane letters. Apa has summited Mount Everest a world record 21 times. Apa was born in Nepal and since 2006 has been residing in Utah with his wife, Yangjin, and their three children. He created the Apa Sherpa Foundation, which is dedicated to providing educational opportunities for the children of his homeland to help strengthen its future.
Andrea Brantzeg Thomas will receive a doctorate of humanities. A Utah native, Thomas received her bachelor’s in mass communications from the U., and later an MBA. She is senior vice president of sustainability for Wal-Mart Stores Inc. Since joining Wal-Mart in 2007, Thomas has been committed to sustainability, first within the Wal-Mart private label business with responsibilities for global brand, product development and sourcing for the company’s proprietary brands.