Rutgers Law students participated in virtual commencement celebrations, and 381 students were awarded law degrees in both the Camden and Newark locations. Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, classes were held virtually this school year along with commencement.
U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-New Jersey) addressed graduating classes in Camden and Newark and urged them to stay strong in the face of adversity, "Sometimes the greatest courage you can show is having that voice inside of you that says, despite the pain or the shame or the hurt, that voice tells you to still get up in the morning, to still shower and put on your clothes and go out there for another day of living and giving and believing--despite all of the evidence that might tell you not to."
Co-Dean Kimberly Mutcherson addressed the students in Camden and said, "Be proud today you persevered, that you showed yourself strong enough to stay focused through a global crisis. No matter what the next few years of your career throw at you, including the coming Bar Exam, remember what you have achieved and know you are capable of greatness."
Student speakers included SBA President Lauren Bess RLAW '21, who told her fellow students, "I hope each of you lead careers that are filled with purpose and passion. I hope you know that myself, and your law school peers will always be here to support and lift you up."
Lauren Bess RLAW '21
Nina Rodriguez RLAW '21, the first Latina Editor-in-Chief of the Rutgers Law Review in Camden, also spoke, “As future lawyers, it is imperative that we continue to practice allyship and make an active choice to not remain silent in the face of injustice."
Nina Rodriguez RLAW '21
Camden's faculty speaker was Professor Adnan Zulfiqar, who was chosen as Professor of the Year by this year's students. He said,"Treat people with respect, regardless of who they are or what status they hold or what position they occupy, from the judge in the chamber ot the janitor in the hallway, to the clients you represent, a little bit of kidness, a little bit of respect is a small gift to give. . . Always seek to understand different perspectives, appreciate the other side, realize that life is much more gray than black or white. Only fight the fights you can live with and look for the good fights."
In Newark, outgoing Co-Dean David Lopez congratulated the graduating students for completing their schooling during the pandemic and during the racial reckoning taking place in the United States. Because of the hardships and sacrifices the law students have overcome, Lopez likened them to the next "Greatest Generation." He said, "I know this class is prepared to tackle the injustices of this new emerging world. This class is prepared to shape and lead this emerging world. I have seen you learn, I have seen you doubt, I have seen you grow and swagger."
Candice Iheme RLAW '21 was the student speaker in Newark. She said, "Each of us must decide what success means to us, because one day you won't remember what you got in your Legal Research and Writing class during your first year of law school and you probably already forgot what you got on your LSAT, but what you will remember is the first friend you made during orientation, or that kid who sat next to you and always cracked jokes with you or shared outlines with you, or that person who looks nothing like you but has become one of your greatest allies and greatest friends." She added, "When people ask me what is the best thing about Rutgers, I say it's the people. It's the community we built here."
Candice Iheme RLAW '21
Newark's faculty speaker Professor John Kettle reminded the graduates that they will be called on to help heal a fractured world, "As you graduate, in addition to ongoing Covid-19 concerns, and as newly-minted attorneys, you will unfortunately continue to face obstacles and challenges, especially those presesnted by a significantly divided political and social environment. The unfortunate growing unrest in our world needs to be addressed and will be an important part of your charge as an advocate for just and necessary change, especially in light of growing racial injustice and social injustice."
N.J. Supreme Court Justice Jaynee LaVecchia RLAW '79, who has announced her retirement, was inducted as an honorary member of the Order of the Coif. And at both locations, faculty members and administrators passed on their congratulations and good wishes to the graduates during the ceremony.