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I-Ho Pomeroy awarded posthumous honorary doctorate at Montana State 2024 spring commencement

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Posted at 12:07 PM, May 14, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-15 10:34:42-04

BOZEMAN — Last Friday, Derik Pomeroy left a crowd of thousands in tears as he spoke about his wife, I-Ho. At the 2024 spring commencement ceremony, Montana State University recognized I-Ho with an honorary doctorate, which Derik accepted in her honor.

I asked Derik, “How would you describe her?”

He told me, “Very energetic positive person. Enormous amount of energy.”

You may have known I-Ho Pomeroy from her restaurant or the decade she spent serving on the Bozeman City Commission. But anyone who has met I-Ho knows her for her kindness and support for the people in her community.

“MSU was acknowledging all the contributions I-Ho had made to Bozeman, to MSU, and to kind of humanity in general,” says Derik.

Honorary doctorates are the university’s highest form of commendation. They are given to individuals who have excelled and made outstanding contributions to society. And that’s exactly why I-Ho received an honorary doctorate in humane letters.

“She did all of these fundraisers. The last one she did after she had been paralyzed was for the Cancer Support Community of Montana. And in one day we raised $40,000. Which is pretty cool,” Derik told me.

Just one of the countless ways I-Ho gave back to her community. I-Ho passed away from cancer on March 12 at her home in Bozeman.

I asked Derik, “If I-Ho were there to accept the doctorate, what do you think that would’ve meant to her?”

He told me, “Oh she would have enjoyed it immensely.”

Derik had to prepare a speech that he would give in front of thousands of people in honor of his wife. I asked how he prepared for that, and he told me, “I just rehearsed it numerous times. With the hope, that if I did it enough, I would keep my emotions in check and not cry too much. But I still cried a little bit."

On Friday, May 10, Derik got up on a stage in front of thousands of people and accepted a posthumous doctorate in honor of I-Ho. There wasn’t a dry eye in the stadium. The audience rose to their feet for a standing ovation after Derik spoke his last line, which was:

“This then is the charge that I-Ho gives to the class of 2024. Know where you come from, go out in the world as an ambassador, and pour water into the ocean of kindness. Thank you.”