A Family Affair: Creating Southwestern Legacies
Throughout Southwestern's 100-year history, generations of graduates have taken tremendous pride in watching family members follow in their footsteps. Fifteen members of Southwestern's Class of 2012 celebrated the legacy started by their parents and grandparents with a new tradition initiated at this year's Commencement Ceremony - they were joined onstage by their alumni relatives who presented them with their diplomas.
The new graduates and their families, who also gathered at a special Legacy Reception at Southwestern during Commencement weekend, shared their thoughts about this unique milestone.
Sebastian Medvei '12 completed Southwestern's two-year SCALE program 15 years after his mother Adrien Medvei '97 graduated from the traditional day program. "It was nice to have Sebastian go to the same law school as I did," she said. "We could relate a lot about our experiences. Also, we had a lot of the same professors such as Knipprath, Krimmel, and Fischer."
Sebastian also enjoyed attending the same school as his mother. "She gave me good advice about keeping up with course work and helped me stay focused," he said.
Adrien discussed with her son many facets of the law school experience such as how to prepare for exams. "I told him to get to know his professors," she explained. "He took my tips well, too. He did a lot better than me in law school."
Stanley Nirenberg '78 is a public defender who graduated from Southwestern's evening program. "I told my son that the practice of law is a good life, and Southwestern is a great school," he said.
Steve Nirenberg '12 completed his J.D. degree through the day program. "My dad told me to work hard and try my best," he said. "I'm open to anything in the legal profession, but ideally, I would like to practice criminal law as well."
David Leeds '12 said that his father Craig Leeds '77 was very candid with him about what the law school experience was like. "I know for my dad it's an emotional thing to have a his son follow in his footsteps, especially in the practice of law, which is so much about history and deep-rooted traditions," David said. But the son plans to start some traditions of his own. While Craig practices family law, David hopes to work in talent representation.
Sometimes legacies skip a generation. Day student Amy Beverlin '12 made her grandfather, the Hon. Porter de Dubovay '57 very proud when she decided to attend Southwestern. "It's wonderful to share that experience with my grandfather," Amy said. She is hoping to work in litigation, but for now, her focus is on the next big step in her career. "My grandfather is very big on emphasizing the importance of passing the bar!"
For the Gurwell clan, Southwestern is truly a family affair. Karin Easter Gurwell '76 started at Southwestern the first year the law school had moved from the Hill Street Campus to the Westmoreland building. Her son Kyle Gurwell '12 initially worked as a substitute teacher while studying in Southwestern's evening program. Then he served as a law clerk at Gilbert, Kelly, Crowley & Jennett LLP before taking hiatus to prep for the bar. Kyle's brother Andrew just completed his first year at Southwestern.
"I'm honored to have my son graduating from Southwestern like I did," said Karin Gurwell, who practices business litigation.
"Southwestern has treated me very well and has treated my family well," Kyle concurred. "It makes me proud of this tradition."