Congratulations, Class of 2019!
On Thursday, May 16, the School of Law held its annual Hooding Ceremony recognizing the 168 graduates of the Class of 2019 (December '18, May and August '19) at Chaifetz Arena.
The class was addressed by Dean William P. Johnson; Anders Walker, the associate dean for research and engagement and the Lillie Myers Professor of Law, who was voted Faculty Member of the Year; valedictorian Maggie Hummel Strong; and the Hon. Donald G. Wilkerson ('93) of the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Illinois, who served as the John C. Shepherd Graduation Speaker.
The invocation and benediction were offered by the Rev. Christopher Collins, S.J., assistant to the president for mission and identity, and the singing of the Star-Spangled Banner was led by the law school choir, made up of students and staff.
Strong, who before law school was a professional cellist performing in various ensembles — including the National Symphony and the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra — and experienced burnout in that career, discussed lessons she learned about balance and taking care of herself during the past three years.
"You can endure a powerhose of information while keeping your cool; otherwise you would not be here today, graduates of SLU LAW," Strong said, addressing her fellow classmates. "Still, as we venture into our legal careers, greater challenges and heavier workloads await us. We will also bear the immense responsibility of having clients who desperately need our help. And for many of us, our personal lives will also become increasingly rich and demanding as our family lives grow.
"We cannot reach our potential as counselors and advocates if we do not first and foremost tend to ourselves," she continued. "And when we make that choice ... then we will approach our work with focus, creativity and humanity. By leading balanced lives, we will enjoy our work, and our work will be better."
After taking the bar exam, Strong plans to join Los Angeles firm Hill, Farrer & Burrill LLP practicing litigation.
Following each graduate's hooding onstage, Judge Wilkerson gave the final address of the ceremony. He expressed the pride he takes in being a lawyer and the joy he finds in memories from his time in law school.
"I am ever so grateful to Saint Louis University School of Law because every opportunity that has ever come my way in law is because of my association with this law school," he said. "I hope that you are proud to be a lawyer, that you value our profession, because not everyone in it does. I hope you build it up, and not tear it down."
He summarized his closing message with the following emphasis: "Humility: your clients' needs before your own. Community: a good legal and personal reputation. Legacy: leave our profession better when you leave it than when you came into it. Thank you for listening, and let's go Blues!"
The Class of 2019 joined the rest of the University in celebrating SLU Commencement two days later on May 18, in Chaifetz Arena.
During that ceremony, SLU LAW alumna Marie Kenyon ('86), director of the Peace and Justice Commission of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, was awarded an honorary Doctor of Public Service degree.
Following the presentation, the deans of the various schools and colleges, including Dean Johnson, presented their graduates to President Fred P. Pestello, Ph.D., as candidates for degree conferral, and Pestello declared them to be "sons and daughters of Saint Louis University forever." Law graduates were then invited back to the rooftop pavilion in Scott Hall for a special reception with faculty and staff.
By Maria Tsikalas, Saint Louis University School of Law Office of Communications