Diploma Ceremony: Welcoming Remarks by SBA President Blake Christopher, J.D. ’15

  • Welcome
    Welcome  2014-15 Student Bar Association President Blake Christopher welcomes graduates and their guests to the ceremony at Lake Matoaka Amphitheatre.  Photo by Gretchen Bedell
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Friends, family members, guests and graduates, welcome to the College of William & Mary Law School graduation. Over the course of today’s events, you will witness as some of William & Mary’s finest are recognized. We will recognize faculty and staff for reaching the pinnacle of their careers. We will recognize students for outstanding academic achievement. But, you will notice that such recognition covers only a few, so I would like to broaden that recognition. I would like to do so by speaking about one of our school’s largest and most important student groups—the Public Service Fund.

The Public Service Fund is a student-run, student-led organization that provides desperately needed legal services free of charge.  It supports students who wish to travel to the far regions of the world fighting for individual rights and legal process, sometimes in countries that neither understand nor know about individual rights and legal process. It supports students who wish to remain here at home and serve the impoverished—serve individuals who could never afford such legal services were it not for William & Mary law students. This year alone, the Public Service Fund—under the Class of 2015’s leadership—collected over $50,000 for such efforts. Over $50,000—all while the students in front of me attended classes, studied for exams, and completed exams. Over $50,000. So, at this time, would all the graduates who volunteered for the Public Service Fund in any way please stand and be recognized? Thank you.

Now, as I said before, today’s recognition covers only a few, for only a few can be first in the Class of 2015. Only 10% can be in the top 10%. But, my message to the graduates today, my charge to the graduates today is this: while only a few can be first in our class, all of us can be, shall be, and must be first class. 

We shall be first class citizens and first class lawyers. First class leaders and first class servants. First class in all that is big and great and first class in all that is small and unnoticed. We shall be first class in all things at all times, graduates, lest we forget that our alma mater was first in this nation’s class of legal academies.

Before I step away from this podium, I want my classmates to know what a privilege it has been to serve as your student body president and what an honor it will be to walk across this stage with you today. Thank you very much.