Friends and family packed the Smith Center Sunday afternoon to watch about 700 law students receive their degrees during the GW Law School’s diploma ceremony.
The school awarded 540 Juris Doctorate degrees and 166 advanced law degrees while more than 3,000 guests filled the gymnasium, said Trent Wilee, a Smith Center event manager.
Former U.S. Solicitor General Gregory Garre, who graduated from GW Law in 1991, was the ceremony’s keynote speaker.
“Three years of law school is a trying experience,” Garre said. “Pause and enjoy the moment. I wish you all great happiness and success as you move on.”
For some, the law school experience has ended too soon.
“I’m relieved, but I just can’t believe it’s happening,” graduate Christine Terrell said. “You go through three years of law school and it’s a big part of your life.”
Thomas Morrison, senior associate dean of administrative affairs, ushered the graduates to the stage, straightening their robes and tassels. After working with students for four years, he said their graduation day is memorable for both the law school and its students.
“This is the greatest day in the life of the law school every year,” Morrison said. “We get to see the shining faces of these achieving students.”
Brett Sheats, a graduate of the class of 2009, presented awards to outstanding faculty members and left his fellow classmates with a few words of encouragement.
“Today marks the end of a memorable time in our life,” Sheats said. “Our futures will be as diverse as the many types of experiences we have had at GW Law, yet a common tie will bind us together, the common belief that the law makes this world a better place.”
Law School Dean Frederick M. Lawrence closed the ceremony with a message to students, encouraging them to pursue careers where their law degrees can help others.
“I’d like them to take away the fact that as they move out into an uncertain world, they should hold onto the best values of our profession and the relationships they formed here and with the school,” Lawrence said after the ceremony.