Kyl to law grads: cultivate excellence, stay flexible

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Jon Kyl
Former Sen. Jon Kyl told December graduates of the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law to approach life with a large dose of humility and prepare for any eventuality.

See pictures of convocation here.

Kyl, who retired in January 2013 after three terms in the U.S. Senate, said he originally had no plans for a career in politics, but ended up serving more than two decades in Congress.

“Think less about your long-range goals and perform well at whatever you are doing now to prepare for what is coming,” Kyl said at the College of Law’s Dec. 19 convocation. “You need not chart every future turn, and being fixed on one specific path can lead to disappointment.”

Instead, Kyl said, set a standard of excellence for all tasks.

He quoted Thomas Jefferson, who said, “I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.”

Luck also figured in the advice given by Douglas Sylvester, Dean of the College of Law.

Douglas Sylvester
Sylvester told the graduates, when faced with challenges throughout their career, to remember what helped them succeed in law school: hard work and perseverance.

“Luck is earned, as much as found,” Sylvester said.

He also reminded them how much help they received from family, faculty and staff, and urged them to remember that and lend a helping hand to students who will follow.

Seventeen students were candidates for Juris Doctor Degrees, four for LL.M., Master of Laws, and four for M.L.S., Master of Legal Studies.

Natali Segovia
Graduate Natali Segovia, chosen by her classmates as the student convocation speaker, said the graduates should “rely on precedent” when faced with coming challenges.

For Segovia, those precedents are found in her family and its roots in Peru.

From her grandfather, who came to the United States at 60 and practiced English with a dictionary and The New York Times: “Don’t take things for granted.” From her mother, who works tirelessly and often without sleep: “Strive to do the impossible, because what is possible is done every day.” From her father, a paradox: “Use your time wisely. Once a minute has passed, it is gone forever.” But also, “Go slowly when you’re in a rush.” And from others: “Keep your sense of humor.” “Always do your best.” “Stay focused.” “Remember who you are.”

From her aunt, a particularly hard-won insight: “Persevere.”

“A little over forty years ago, my aunt first came from Peru,” Segovia said. “She had broken her back and after surgery in Tucson, she was alone in a country far from her own and was told it was unlikely she would ever walk again.

“On her own initiative, she asked the nurse to help her to the pool every day, where she would hold on to the ledge and move her legs through the water. Two years later, she had willed herself to walk again.

“You’ve willed yourself through law school,” Natali told the graduates. “Now will yourself through life.”

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