Temple Law School conferred 218 Juris Doctor degrees, 92 LL.M. and S.J.D. degrees, and one Doctor of Humane Letters degree at the 119th Commencement exercises on May 16, 2019. The graduates were celebrated and challenged in remarks by Dean Gregory Mandel, guest speaker Emily Bazelon, Evening Division class speaker Grace Chehoud-Vangelo, and Day Division class speaker Brianna Shaw. Stephen A. Sheller, whose family foundation supports the Sheller Center for Social Justice, also received an honorary doctor of humane letters, conferred by Temple University Trustee Jane Scaccetti.
Noting that the “grand experiment” of American democracy began in Philadelphia, Dean Mandel mused: “Who better … than Temple Law students to inherit responsibility for America’s grand experiment – an undertaking that is still unfolding today in Philadelphia, across the country, and around the globe? Your drive, energy, and enthusiasm for making our world better are vitally important, for you are the inventors and innovators who will lead us into the future.”
Commencement speaker Emily Bazelon, author of the New York Times bestseller Charged, added her encouragement: “You can try things here, or wherever you move to, on a relatively small scale that may prove to have value elsewhere in the country …. Whether you are liberal or conservative, or somewhere in between, the opportunity exists to make your state more generous and hospitable to all its citizens.”
Grace Chehoud-Vangelo, the student elected by the Evening Division to represent them as class speaker, told graduates that a Temple Law degree presented an inherent challenge: “The Temple J.D. is a challenge to advocate for those who are less privileged than us; a challenge to do good for those who have been neglected, whose voices have been silenced, and whose strengths oppressed. A Temple J.D. is a challenge to stand up for someone else; a challenge to empower others to stand tall, or to kneel down …. It is a challenge to ask why.”
Day Division speaker Brianna Shaw issued a call to her fellow graduates to “challenge our profession to progress. As we leave Temple today, we will be setting out on diverse career paths. But whether you’re entering the legal profession in positions of the powerful elite or down in the trenches, I urge you to challenge the methods of oppression inherent in our legal system. Challenge yourselves to expand your horizons. Challenge the world’s idea of what an attorney does and looks like.”
As the Class of 2019 prepares to join the ranks of Temple Lawyers everywhere, they carry with them one final instruction from their Dean: “Wherever your practice takes you–however you use your legal skill, creativity, and innovative vision–my charge to you is this: in all you do, strive, relentlessly, to make things better.”
Congratulations to the Temple University Beasley School of Law Class of 2019!