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May 17, 2016

On Friday, May 6, the University of Kentucky College of Law held its Commencement Ceremony to honor and celebrate the Class of 2016. 146 eager and remarkable law students walked across the stage in the Singletary Center for the Arts ready to claim their award for three years of hard work: A UK Law diploma.

“Today is a day of joy – for graduates and for all of us here today. We all share your sense of accomplishment, your sense of relief, and your sense of anticipation about the future,” said David A. Brennen, Dean at UK College of Law.

Dean Brennen went on to note the many accomplishments of this extraordinary class:

  • law and business students volunteered in the VITA clinic to assist in preparing hundreds of tax returns for low-income taxpayers

  • students competed in numerous co-curricular legal skills enhancement activities, such as the Williams Institute LGBT Moot Court Competition in Los Angeles, the Regional Moot Court Competition in Richmond, VA, and the National Trial Competition in Dallas

  • students provided pro bono legal services in underserved areas of Eastern Kentucky during spring break

  • student-run law journals hosted legal symposia, including the Kentucky Law Journal’s Symposium on Election Law and the Kentucky Journal of Equine, Agriculture and Natural Resources Law Symposium on Energy and Environmental Law

  • members of the graduating class of 2016 engaged the community by hosting Kentucky State Treasurer Allison Ball and Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes

  • students danced to raise money to fight pediatric cancer, cooked chili to raise money for students to work in summer public interest positions and provided turkeys to ensure families in need had food at Thanksgiving

  • students partnered with a local non-profit to bring puppies to the law school right before finals to help students relax, while also creating an opportunity for the puppies to be adopted

Through all of these activities, the Class of 2016 demonstrated an outward-focus that will continue to serve them as they begin their careers in law. As a further demonstration of a special type of commitment to the College of Law, the Class of 2016 came together to “give back.” As a result of financial donations by the class, coffee machines will be strategically placed to be more available to future students in the college.

Molly Coffey, as the highest-ranked student of the class, gave the greetings for the graduates.

“So go off and ‘seize the moment’ and make the most of life’s opportunities tomorrow or, maybe next fall, but today be proud of what we have already accomplished. Because we have accomplished something worth pausing for, even if there is more left to do,” said Coffey.

Angela Edwards, attorney and UK Board of Trustees member, spoke on behalf of the practicing bar. She encouraged the graduates to take time to appreciate and celebrate the successes, even the small ones, along the way. She also suggested finding a sense of work/life balance that works for them, as it will only make them a better lawyer. 

Franklin L. Runge, Faculty Services Librarian, was selected by the graduating students to deliver remarks on behalf of the College of Law faculty. He spoke about the Class of 2016 entering the “spring time” of their legal careers, noting that it is an exciting time for faculty, as the greatest affirmation they receive is watching the student’s potential transform into reality. 

“You will soon be on the front lines – making policy, litigating cases, being an engaged citizen, voting in elections and mentoring people looking to enter the legal profession,” said Runge. “With you in this world, I have hope. I look at each of your faces and I see deliverance. You will usher in a spring time for this Commonwealth and this nation.”

The faculty selected Christopher Stewart as the 2016 Faculty Cup Recipient, and Dean Brennen presented him with an engraved silver julep cup during the presentation of awards. The Faculty Cup recognizes a graduating student whose endeavors, both in and out of the classroom, made the law school a more interesting place in which to teach and a more pleasant place for faculty and students alike.

Dean Brennen recognized those students in the running, based on grade point averages through the fall 2015 semester, for nomination and election to the Order of the Coif. When grades are submitted for the spring 2016 semester, the faculty will elect the students from the actual top 10% to the Order. The eligible students recognized were: Zachary Anderson, Gardner Bell, Molly Coffey, Colton Givens, Mary Katherine Kington, Graham Marks, Kathryn Meyer, Elaine Naughton, Taylor Poston, Samuel Reinhardt, Kierston Eastham Rosen, Kathryn Kirby Stephens, Christopher Stewart, Misty Stone, Mary Ellen Wimberly, and Richard Wooldridge. He also acknowledged students who received the Pro Bono Award by completing at least 50 hours of independent law-related public service prior to graduation: Kara Beer, Tanya Boulmetis, Zachary Brown, Clay Duvall, Eric Filion, Daniel Gifford, Alexis Gonzalez-Lopez, Arash Hamidi, Rachel Hepburn, Tara Hutchison, Tatiana Lipsey, Nick Modarressi, Andrea Reed, Joseph Rinaldi, Terra Rivera, Mark Roth, Abid Shalash, Drake Staples, and Thomas Wall.

Dean Brennen then presented members of the graduating class with certificates signifying attainment of the degree of Juris Doctor.

Noelle True, College of Law Alumni Association President, wrapped up the ceremony by welcoming the new graduates as distinguished alumni with an adaptation of Robert Fulghum’s All I Ever Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten to the legal profession.

Congratulations Class of 2016! The College of Law looks forward to the remarkable achievements of this class in years to come.