Honorable Senator Kaine, Dean Douglas, esteemed faculty, friends, family, and fellow graduates of the Class of 2016: welcome and thank you for being here this morning.
Now tradition, as set by former Student Bar Association Presidents, instructs me to use the welcoming remarks to speak to the overwhelming success of the graduating class. It comes as no surprise that my predecessors chose this—of all topics—because the apparent task for the President is to say something that the entire graduating class would hopefully agree on. And, at the very least, I think most of us would agree that our class—in particular—is pretty great. Our shared and individual achievements are illustrative of a graduating class that continually met or otherwise blew past expectations. And our class exemplified the ideals set by Thomas Jefferson in envisioning the Citizen Lawyer.
But I cannot go on reviewing our triumphs. As you likely already know and will continue to experience, this entire weekend is devoted to such an endeavor.
Instead, I wish to depart from tradition and use my time this morning to speak to an otherwise missing aspect of this weekend's celebration. Although there may be brief remarks of thanks and appreciation, there is not one dedicated segment in any of the formal festivities to recognize those who also merit acknowledgment. Such recognition is owed not for completing a particular curriculum, not for achieving some measure of success; it is owed for providing unyielding love and support. Because we certainly did not get here today alone.
I wish only to use my time to say a most sincere and heartfelt thank you and I believe my fellow graduates would agree with offering such gratitude.
So first, thank you to all of our moms and dads, grandparents, or other guardians. To say we could not have done it without you is more than just the most honest of platitudes, it is also an undeniable fact. And for those of you in the crowd today, maybe, just maybe, this will finally be the last graduation you will have to attend for us. Some of you could not be here with us today and, whether you can hear this message or not, we miss you and we thank you just the same.
Thank you to spouses, significant others, or other loved ones. While this weekend celebrates the best of law school experiences, it is likely that you have been there for us through the worst of them. Law school is not without its frustrations and struggles but because of your encouragement and reinforcement we are here today. For that, thank you.
Thank you to sisters and brothers and other close relatives. Perhaps our lawyerly aptitude for argumentation is the byproduct of a very distant history with you. So thank you for that, and thank you for your love and patience as we plodded along on this three year expedition.
Of course, thank you to friends. For non-law school friends, the fact that you remain our friends, despite these past three years, is testament enough to your kindness and understanding. Thank you also to the friends who occupy these seats up front here. No doubt, William & Mary Law School is a special place and the lasting relationships formed here go well beyond simple commiseration, they are friendships for the ages. So thank you for joining along on this journey.
The Class of 2016 owes thanks to so many. I can only hope that this brief reflection will serve as one small gesture of our appreciation within a weekend where the focus falls solely on us. Please let our accomplishments and success now and throughout our careers extol you for all you have done for us. I hope we have made and will continue to make you proud.
And for every pat on the back, every hug, and every "congratulations," we, the Class of 2016, reply with our most humble and most sincere "thank you."
Thomas Jefferson founded William & Mary Law School in 1779 to train leaders for the new nation. Now in its third century, America's oldest law school continues its historic mission of educating citizen lawyers who are prepared both to lead and to serve.