The 379 graduates who received degrees in two commencement ceremonies over May 15 and 16 were advised to follow their dreams and use their degrees to make society a better place.
Delaware Supreme Court Justice Henry duPont Ridgely told Delaware-campus graduates they should strive to be authentic professionals – people who practice with civility, ethics and compassion, and abide by higher conduct than is required by code. He encouraged them to contribute to society through pro bono service and to shun the notion that monetary gain should be their inspiration.
“Helping others in need is one of the greatest personal rewards of being a lawyer,” he said.
Secretary of the Commonwealth for Pennsylvania Pedro Cortés was the featured speaker at the commencement program for Harrisburg-campus graduates. He told graduates their law degrees were an investment in themselves and their futures – degrees that could lead them in many exciting directions beyond traditional courthouse opportunities. Cortés encouraged them to work as mentors and volunteers and become active in their communities.
“Go above and beyond in the scope of your prescribed responsibilities,” he said. “Earn your paycheck, but don’t stop there.”
The Delaware campus commencement, held Saturday, May 15 on the school green, also featured remarks by valedictorian William Mark Alleman Jr. of Wilmington, Del. Law Dean Linda L. Ammons
gave the outstanding faculty award – decided by a vote of the graduating class – to Associate Professor Leslie Johnson
. The dean gave the Douglas E. Ray excellence in faculty scholarship award to Professor David R. Hodas
and Associate Professor Jules Epstein
The Harrisburg campus commencement, held Sunday, May 16 at the Forum in Harrisburg’s Capitol Complex, featured remarks by co-valedictorians Nicole Santo of Plains, Pa. and Matthew Eyet of Tunkhannock, Pa.. Ammons gave the outstanding faculty award to Professor James W. Diehm
. Ammons gave the Douglas E. Ray excellence in faculty scholarship award to Associate Professor D. Benjamin Barros
Widener University Senior Vice President and Provost Jo Allen challenged graduates at both ceremonies to intensify the depth of their commitment to law.
“The more deeply we commit to whatever life’s passions may be, the more likely we are to do well,” she said.
Ammons told the graduates a privilege of being part of the legal community is the ability to give back. She commended the classes’ spirit for public service, with 74 Delaware-campus graduates donating 9,768 pro bono hours of service since their first year of law school, and 31 Harrisburg-campus graduates donating 4,986 pro bono hours of service.
“Lawyers have the awesome capacity to change lives and affect history,” she said. “You are guardians of democracy and champions of justice.”