168th Commencement: Watch Live
You are now on a path toward making a difference in peoples' lives and the world around you.
That was the message delivered to Albany Law School's 150 incoming students at orientation, which began August 16 with remarks from President and Dean Alicia Ouellette, Class of 1994.
Photos: Class of 2020 Orientation
"I am so happy to welcome you to Albany Law School," Dean Ouellette told the Class of 2020. "What a journey it is going to be. Starting today, you join generations of lawyers, leaders, judges, teachers, advocates, and public servants who walked these halls."
"Our graduates go on to make sure that justice is done," she added. "They have closed million-dollar deals, and helped individuals close on their houses. They have made new laws. They have protected the environment, fought discrimination, advocated for veterans, victims of domestic violence, children, and business owners. They stand up to injustice and defend our Constitution. Our graduates change peoples' lives. We can't wait to see what you do with your Albany Law School degree."
She noted that the students, through the course of their studies, will meet faculty and alumni mentors, lifelong friends, and perhaps even life partners.
Dean Ouellette then introduced keynote speaker Robert Capers '96, former U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York. He advised the class to keep an open mind, recalling how his career trajectory changed after taking a trial tactics course in his second year. "That class tapped into something that I didn't realize I was missing," he said.
Capers also spoke about the benefits of studying law in the Capital Region, "the nerve center" of New York State. "You have the opportunity to go to law school at a deciding time, when the law matters," he said. "Take advantage of it. Make this the most rewarding experience you can. And then, at the end of this, when you are being toasted and being sent off, go out and make a difference."
During the three-day program, incoming students participated in collaborative exercises, networked with alumni and professors, learned about opportunities on campus, and heard from faculty members, graduates, and current students. Orientation concluded with U.S. District Judge Mae D'Agostino delivering the oath of professionalism, followed by a toast to Albany Law's newest students.
"I am just so happy for you that you have chosen this path," Judge D'Agostino said. "You have chosen such a wonderful career to embark upon. Being a lawyer, no matter what type of law you get into, it's a spectacular career. You change lives. You make a real difference in the world. So give law school everything you have."
About the Class of 2020:
• Ages range from 20 to 51, with a median of 22.
• Foreign-born students hail from Brazil, France, Haiti, Honduras, South Korea, and Saudi Arabia.
• Seventy-one undergraduate schools are represented, including Boston College, Northeastern University, Ohio State University-Columbus, St. John's University, Syracuse University, Texas Tech University, University of Florida, University of Illinois-Urbana, and Williams College. Thirty-four students graduated from the University at Albany.
• Top majors include Political Science (31), Psychology (14), and Criminal Justice (14).
• Nineteen percent of the class identifies as minority.
• Five students served in the military, a retired Navy SEAL among them. One student worked as an English Teacher in Taipei. Another lived in Antarctica and New Zealand. Two are Eagle Scouts. Fourteen are legacy students; one student's brother is a 2L.