The Smith Center teemed with students, families and friends as the GW Law School sent its 133rd graduating class into the law profession May 23.
The law school ceremony was held a week after the University’s unified Commencement ceremony on the Ellipse, which included all other GW schools.
The school bestowed 486 juris doctorate and 105 master of laws degrees at the ceremony. One doctorate of juridical science was conferred.
The afternoon was peppered with excitement, hopefulness and a sense of responsibility, as the graduates passed the threshold from students to lawyers.
“Welcome to the world that lies beyond law school,” said GW President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg. “Welcome to the noble profession of law.”
As lawyers, the graduating students will soon face responsibilities placed on them by society, said Eric Holder, U.S. deputy attorney general and the keynote speaker.
He said people close to the graduates and members of the community provided the resources and opportunities necessary for the students to reach their current position.
Society’s investment in the graduates’ success place them among the privileged elite – but with privilege comes responsibility, he said.
“To those whom much is given, much is expected,” Holder said. “It is your turn to give back . commit your personal lives not to doing well but to doing good.”
Holder issued the graduates a challenge to make American better.
“As lawyers you will be public servants,” he said.
Holder said the possibilities he saw for the future inspired him. But he also said the achievements of these students during their law school years amazed him.
Individual students were specifically recognized on stage for their achievements.
D. Michael Straud and Sheryl Corrine Winarick received the Michael Dillon Cooley Memorial Award, which recognized their generosity and ability to challenge their fellow students.
Lora Marie Green received the Anne Wells Branscomb Award for earning the highest cumulative grade point average in the evening division of her class. She also earned the John Bell Larner Award for earning the highest average in the entire graduating class.
As part of the recognition for her accomplishment, Green headed the procession of students and was the first graduate to receive her diploma at the ceremony.
Faculty members and administrators also were recognized.
Law school Dean Jack Friedenthal received the law school faculty’s resolution of appreciation for his decade of service to the school.
“This is, in a sense, my graduation also,” Friedenthal said.
Friedenthal will step down as dean at the end of this month. Trachtenberg is currently considering candidates to replace him.
Roger Transgrud, law school marshal, said Friedenthal will teach civil procedure in the school next fall.
The law school student body presented Gregory Eaton Maggs with the 1998 Distinguished Faculty Service Award.
The law school also conferred David Earl Seidelson and Teresa Moran Schwartz with emeritus status, which recognized their service as professors.
The afternoon was highlighted by the excitement of family members and friends, who enthusiastically looked on as loved ones received their degrees.
Anne Galdos flew from San Diego to see both her daughter Christina Galdos and her daughter’s fianc? Mathew Bernstein graduate.
“I hope Christina and Mathew have a long and happy life together,” she said as she watched the two proceed to their seats.
Patrick McCarthy, who received his master of laws degree, took five of his six children on stage to accept his diploma. The youngest was still sleeping in his stroller.
His daughter Denise said she wanted to take part in her father’s graduation.
“He’s worked really hard for this,” she said.
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