Commencement Speakers Inspire Southwestern Graduates
At Southwestern's 95th Commencement Ceremony, graduates and their guests were treated to inspiring words from a seasoned judge and a fellow student. During the ceremony, held on May 16 at the Shrine Auditorium, degrees were conferred on 307 J.D. and 22 LL.M. graduates.
An accomplished jurist, scholar and practitioner, Justice Ming Chin of the Supreme Court of California, delivered the keynote address. "My father once told me about an old Chinese proverb," he said. "It went something like this: 'If you want to plan for 1 year, plant rice. If you want to plan for 10 years, plant a tree. If you want to plan for 100 years, educate children.'" He appreciates the significance of the fact that he was appointed to the state supreme court exactly 100 years after his father was born.
While Justice Chin's speech focused on the compelling need to maintain an independent and impartial judiciary despite recent political attacks on the process, Justice Chin also offered graduates sage advice: "In the chaotic rush to success in your legal careers, do not forget your personal lives. Do not forget your families."
He concluded, "In 20 years you will be the senior partners in the major firms around the state. Perhaps some of you will be district attorneys or public defenders or the Attorney General. Perhaps some of you will become judges. As you move forward in your legal career, let us together insure that our judicial system continues to be fair, impartial, and independent. If we do that, our democracy will remain strong and enduring."
In the Student Commencement Address, Leah Cohen-Mays reflected on the trials and tribulations as well as the tremendous gratification that she and her fellow graduates experienced during their years at Southwestern, and how their education has prepared them to enter the legal profession with confidence.
"As we celebrate the end of this amazing and challenging journey, I am reminded of something my professor said to my class during our first week of law school. She said, 'Embrace Your Future.' This is a phrase that has stuck with me throughout my law school career. But, it has never meant as much as it does right now because now it's time for action — that "future" is here."
Cohen-Mays said that law school prepared the class well to embrace their future. "Southwestern has given each of us every opportunity to be the best at our profession — from our LAWS programs, to our Honors programs, externships and scholarships, brilliant and supportive professors, interesting courses — both here and abroad, involved alumni and impressive community connections. Southwestern has given us all of that."
She concluded by asking her fellow graduates to move forward and thrive. "And, as we move forward in our legal careers, let us make sure our actions always bring integrity to this profession, positive recognition to our school, and a sense of pride to our professors, friends and family who saw us through this often challenging experience of law school."
To read a full copy of Cohen-Mays speech, click here.