UNH Law’s Class of 2012 Honored at Commencement
On Saturday, May 19, 2012, 172 students received degrees from the University of New Hampshire School of Law during the school’s 37th commencement, and just its second as an affiliate of the University of New Hampshire.
The students, who came from 33 states and 15 countries, received a mixture of both traditional juris doctor and graduate degrees.
UNH President Mark Huddleston opened the ceremony by praising the law school’s new relationship with the state university, and the dynamic opportunities the affiliation brings. To the students, he said, “You are prepared to embrace these opportunities. It’s my hope that we will continue to work together.”
Professor Albert “Buzz” Scherr, who was selected by the graduating class as this year’s faculty speaker, urged the students to “be lawyers of skill and passion.”
“Pay attention to your heart and not just your head,” he said. “That’s the most important thing. A skilled lawyer without passion is a soulless technocrat, and a passionate lawyer without skill is a windy bore.” And, he joked, “Speaking of windy bores, thank you for electing me.”
Student speaker Adeyemi Ibironke of Nigeria, who received his master of laws in international criminal law and justice, talked about the diversity he encountered at the school. After saying a few words in the languages of his classmates, he talked about some of the American cultural milestones he and his fellow international graduate students had encountered: Thanksgiving, the Super Bowl, and, perhaps most challenging, he said with a laugh, learning to make themselves understood when calling for a cab.
Jonathan Foskett, speaker for the juris doctor students, directed his words to the graduates’ families and friends, who would soon be entrusted with the care of exhausted former law students who “haven’t seen the light of day in years.” It would be rough going for a while, he joked, but “by the time your graduate actually reaches the bar exam, he or she will have completed their rehabilitation.”
Four distinguished guests were also there to mark the occasion, and to receive honorary degrees from the school: Congressman John Lewis of Georgia, a legendary civil rights figure and the commencement speaker; Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine; Chief Judge Randall Rader of the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit; and Judge Jeffrey Howard of the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.
“This is your day, enjoy it,” Congressman Lewis told the students. “Take a long deep breath and take it in, but tomorrow you must be prepared to roll up your sleeves because the world is waiting for talented, smart, gifted men and women to lead it to a better place.”
“When I had an opportunity to get involved, I got involved,” he told the students. “We still have a distance to go. Too many of our citizens have been left out and left behind: They’re black and white and Latino and Native Americans and Asian-American. I was inspired to get in the way, get in trouble – good trouble, necessary trouble – and I expect you, the members of the class of 2012, to get in trouble and help make our world a better place.”
More photos of UNH Law's commencement may be seen here.