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Napolitano urges graduates to give back
Napolitano urges graduates to act, balance, give back
Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano
Tomorrow's lawyers must master a world whose progress is marked not just by change, but by an ever-accelerating rate of change, graduates of the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law were told at their convocation.
Gov. Janet Napolitano addressed the 189 members of the Class of 2007, their cheering family and friends, faculty and staff members who packed Gammage Auditorium at Arizona State University on Friday, May 11.
"Consider that 1.4 million years passed between when our ancestors harnessed fire and when they discovered the wheel," Napolitano said. "By comparison, it took just 5,400 years for humanity to combine fire and wheels to create the internal combustion engine. From there, it took less than a century to devise how to use fire to lift men and their wheels to the moon for a space-aged buggy ride across the Sea of Tranquility.
"And when you consider that we have now mapped the human genome, that our mobile phones allow us to watch videos (and make them), and that we may be only a year or two away from a production-line car that routinely gets more than 100 miles per gallon, it becomes clear that the speed with which our world reinvents itself is astonishing."
Attorneys will be called upon to make sense of future changes, to resolve privacy concerns arising from technological advancements and to help manage growth challenges that often pit quality of life against progress, she said.
"The yin-yang nature of our growth will be a pivotal challenge for our communities," Napolitano said. "How we choose to approach these issues will shape the 21st Century definition of the West."
She also urged the graduates to advocate for the judiciary and to defend its independence.
"Some Americans have shown less respect for our nation's law," Napolitano said. "For some, the importance of controlling the government for partisan victories supersedes all else, particularly where the judiciary is concerned."
Members of the Class of 2007 will have to work diligently to keep balance in their lives and retain their sanity, while using their profession to improve their communities, she said.
"Pro bono work is not the dreaded chore of the modern lawyer - it is a duty and a privilege," the governor said. "And performing community service means more than exercising checkbook philanthropy; it means volunteering on non-profit boards, championing local causes that need your help. To some of you, it will mean running for public office."
Patricia White, Dean of the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law, thanked the graduates' families and friends for their support and praised the class members for their academic excellence and pro bono service. The class had 29 Cum Laudes (top 25 percent of the class), 15 Magna Cum Laudes (top 10 percent), and six Summa Cum Laudes (93 or above grade point average).
Thirty graduates were awarded Pro Bono Distinction for contributing 50-99 hours of service each during law school, 10 were awarded High Pro Bono Distinction for performing 100-149 hours each, and 16 earned Highest Pro Bono Distinction for contributing 150 or more hours each.
"I hope the examples of these students will cause all of you to go forward as lawyers and to give copiously of your time to your communities," White said.
Rusty Crandell, who shared the John S. Armstrong Award for academic performance and contributions to the College of Law with fellow graduate Alastair Gamble, talked about the unique personality of the Class of 2007.
The class includes Rebecca Ruegg who, despite being a single mom, contributed dozens of hours of pro bono work; Dennis Farar, a married father of four who worked full-time while attending law school; and Rachel Reames. The class represents 12 countries, from Bangladesh to Romania, and five Native American tribes.
"We will not forget Uncle Bob's stories (referring to litigator-turned-professor Bob Bartels), we will not forget the passion of Professor (Michael) Berch or the enthusiasm of (director of Pro Bono Programs and Student Life) K Royal, and we will not forget the invitations to watch the jazz band of Professors (Charles) Calleros and (Dan) Strouse," Crandell said.
Cesely Hopper was chosen by her classmates as the student convocation speaker. She also presented the Outstanding Teaching Award, another honor made by students, to Professor Gary Marchant, executive director of the Center for the Study of Law, Science, & Technology.
Hopper said the legal community and, therefore, law schools must improve the diversity of its members, and not only regarding race, but culture, religion, gender and sexual orientation. She encouraged her classmates to help those with few resources and little support and encouragement
"We have the power to make a difference," Hopper said. "Change starts with one person."