During two ceremonies in May, nearly 400 students graduated from both locations of Rutgers Law School.
The commencement ceremony for the Camden location took place on Thursday, May 18 at the BB&T Pavilion in Camden, and the ceremony for the Newark location was held at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center on Friday, May 26.
The ceremony in Camden started with an introduction by Co-dean Michael Cahill, who told those attending that the Class of 2017 contributed over 70,000 hours of free legal & related services to the community while at the school. Following Co-dean Cahill’s introduction, the Class of 2017 President Kiera McGroarty greeted the graduating class. Next, the student speaker Katrina Xyloportas, president of the Student Bar Association in Camden, addressed the graduates. The keynote address was delivered by James Sandman, president of Legal Services Corporation, who reminded graduates that “good people finish first.”
Sandman urged the graduates to value three qualities: integrity, being respectful and kind to everyone, and giving back to the community. “It is also important to find a career where your personal values and work are aligned,” he said. "Generosity is not only compatible with professional success, it can promote it." Following the ceremony, a reception was held for the graduates and their families at the Law School.
In Newark, Co-dean Ronald Chen welcomed the graduates and told them that by having chosen a career in the law they now had a “special responsibility” to make a contribution to their communities. He told the students they are graduating at a time when people are recognizing the importance of lawyers in the fight for social justice. “Keep anchored in your essential humanity,” he told them. “What impressed me about this class is your passion.”
James Arrabito, who was selected by his classmates as the student speaker, praised the culture at Rutgers Law School, which allowed students to become friends and help each other, “We found we didn’t have to always compete, we could work together toward common success.”
Professor George Thomas, who was selected by the graduates as the faculty speaker, addressed the students and acknowledged that “many are worried about the state of the republic.” He likened current times to the divided times of the Vietnam War and Nixon presidency and reminded the graduates that the country has endured those difficult times along with many others. “Yet the republic endures,” he said, adding that the graduates must help it endure in a better way. He also reminded the students about the frailty of life, “Enjoy your career but don’t forget to enjoy your life.”
Patty Shwartz a judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, gave a list of advice to Rutgers Law students who graduated at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center on Friday. From “Be a can do person and problem solver” to “Be selfless and reach beyond yourself in the service of others,” Judge Shwartz urged the newly-minted graduates to keep a sense of humor while practicing the law and to guard their reputations. “Be open to learning, to giving, to participating,” she said. “Never become apathetic. Be courageous, devoted and reach beyond yourselves.”
Students in Newark at NJPAC.