School of Law News

Law Commencement 2014 

Posted Wednesday, May 21, 2014

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Western New England University School of Law held its 2014 Commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 17 at Symphony Hall in downtown Springfield. The ceremony included the awarding of 121 Juris Doctor (J.D.) and Master of Laws (LL.M.) degrees.

Kevin S. Delbridge, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, lauded the graduates for the hard work and sacrifices it took to make this moment a reality, while Anthony S. Caprio, President of Western New England University, challenged the graduates in his address. "All of you have public responsibilities to undertake and a commitment to making this a more just and civilized society," President Caprio said. "You are not a mere legal technician. You are here to see that justice prevails, to give us all dignity, and to assure our liberties."

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The Honorable Andrew J. McDonald, Associate Justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court, served as Commencement Speaker and received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree during the ceremony. In his remarks Justice McDonnald told the graduates, “The story of your professional career will not be left up to chance, to whim, or even to destiny. No, instead, it will be written by the choices you make, the opportunities you seize, and even the doors you close. It will be made up by the content of your character and the values you possess. Nobody can write these next chapters of your life but you, and for the most part, you only get to write them once. So as you prepare to write the first chapter of the rest of your life, you probably already know there will be obstacles, challenges, and setbacks in your future. There always are, and that’s OK. It’s how you deal with them that really matters.” 


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President Anthony S. Caprio, Justice Andrew J. McDonald, Dean Eric Gouvin, and Board of Trustees Chair Kevin Delbridge L'77

JD candidate Adam VanHeyst was selected to give the student remarks, praising the tight-knit community the graduates and faculty had formed during their time together. Dean Eric Gouvin noted that very day marked the 60th anniversary of the Supreme Court's decision in the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case, and the 10th anniversary of same-sex couples being allowed to marry in Massachusetts. Reminding the graduates -- more than half of women -- of the importance of their responsibility to fight for justice, Gouvin also recalled a time when the U.S. Supreme Court found women "unfit" to practice law.

"In 2014 that reads like a crazy anachronism, but it was a way of thinking that took decades and lots of passionate lawyers to change," he said. "Sadly, today in Nigeria, a couple of hundred young women await their fate, having been abducted by someone who is also sure that God is on his side, and wants those girls sold into slavery because they had the audacity to try to get an education. When we look around the world, even within our own borders, who else is having their rights denied because of societal norms that are outdated and oppressive?" 

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Back Row L to R: John Hamme, Grant Boland, Law Professor Fred Royal, Brett Connolly, and Stephen Leonard
Front Row L to R: Angelia Nystrom, Rebecca Bragg, Kendra O’Toole 

Following the presentation of degrees, the School of Law recognized several award winners:

CATIC Foundation Award
Achievement in Real Property Courses
John Fries

Edward F. McBride Award
Greatest Academic Advancement
Donna-Rae Kenneally

James C. Faison Multicultural Leadership Award
Promotion of Racial and Ethnic Diversity
Colleen Monroe

Abraham Smith Award
Achievement in Probate Matters
Kaley Lentini & Rachael Rosenberg

National Association of Women Lawyers Award
Professional Excellence and Leadership
Catherine Ady-Bell 

Edward B. Cooley Award
Achievement in Labor Law
Meaghan Murphy

Dean’s Award
Overall Achievement
Megan MacKenzie 

Norman Prance Award
Academic Excellence
Joseph Fogarty

To view more photos of this event, click here, to visit the Campus Photo Gallery, click here.


For the complete text of President Anthony Caprio's remarks, click here.

For the complete text of Dean Eric Gouvin's remarks, click here.

For the complete text of student Adam VanHeyst's remarks, click here.

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