Saturday, May 16, 2009

May 2009 Commencement: A Great Day for the Graduates & A Great Day for the University of Denver

There are few days in life that are more satisfying than those when one can watch, recognize, and enjoy the success of many others. A graduation day is just such an occasion, and I've just had the great good fortune today of watching as our program's class of 2009 graduated this morning.

The morning, which dawned as a gray, chilly affair, did not take long to emerge into a warm, Colorado sunshine-filled day that marked an endpoint and a new beginning point for our graduates. And what a class they've been!

However, before making some personal reflections, let me speak about the diversity of this class. We had graduates from nine countries: Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Mexico, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, and the United States. In terms of states in which our students have studied, the list is equally impressive: California, Colorado, Florida, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.

Put another way, this was our most diverse class ever. The richness and understanding that these students brought to the life of the law school was enormously impressive. Not one or two, but many, many professors, other students, and staff have told me how much the diversity of the graduate program adds to the Sturm College of Law. And may I briefly digress for just a moment: All of us owe a great debt of gratitude to Lucy Daberkow, Assistant Program Director, for her unwavering commitment to all of our students -- be they from near or far -- and her appreciation of the role that diversity plays in the life of our graduate community. To Lucy all of us say, "muchisimas gracias!"

The diversity helps all of us in the sense of learning about different points of view, becoming friends with individuals from places thousands of miles from our own places of birth, coming to respect the combined points of view that make the world the challenging but opportunity-filled place that it is. If past experience is any indication, these new graduates will continue to benefit for many years to come from what they have learned and seen at DU.

All of us here are much the better for having had the opportunity to learn from these great students and people.

So it is with equal parts of sadness to see them leave, but with high expectations for the contributions to our world that they will make that I write this. These grduates will never leave the "community" they have been a part of this past year, and we will fondly remember their time here.

Now I would like to share just a few of the many pictures (please note that more pictures will be available soon on the program's homepage) that capture the meaning and significance we have been a part of today.

Left to right: Stephen Ziri (LLM graduate, Nigeria); David Southland (LLM graduate, U.S.); Professor Tonye Oki (a 2005 LLM graduate, originally from Nigeria); Lucy Daberkow (Assistant Director, originally from Mexico); Don Smith (Director, the U.S.). The two "chicas" in front of Ms. Daberkow are in our class of 2025!

Don Smith and Misty Sims (LLM graduate, U.S.).

Don Smith and Helyna Bledsoe (MRLS graduate, U.S.)

Let to right: Jared Hayes-Mazzocco (MRLS, U.S.); Elizabeth DiNello (LLM, U.S); Lucy Daberkow; Don Smith; Kathryn Sachs (MRLS, U.S.); and Emily Smith (MRLS, U.S.).

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