When many of the Albany Law School Class of 2022 graduates began their law school career, not a single one of them could have predicted the changes that were ahead—in the world, in academics, or in life itself.
But as President and Dean Alicia Ouellette ’94 told them:
“The way you have supported one another, the way you have pivoted, the way you powered through all that life has thrown at you over the past couple of years, speaks volumes about the kinds of professionals you will be. Even when you’ve struggled, you’ve prevailed,” she said. “Your ability to come together is made even more remarkable when you think about just how diverse a group of individuals you are.”
In total, 201 graduates—165 J.D., 19 M.S., and 17 LL.M—were celebrated at Albany Law School’s 171st Commencement on May 20, 2022 at Saratoga Performing Arts Center. This year’s graduates represent 20 states, 15 countries, 18 languages, 90 undergraduate institutions, and 35 undergraduate academic degree types. They also completed a historic 56,572 pro bono hours.
The Commencement speaker, Ambassador Bonnie Jenkins ’88, gave the keynote address. Ambassador Jenkins is the current Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security, a position she assumed in July 2021. She is the first African American to ever serve as an Under Secretary of State at the U.S. Department of State.
“Being here right now makes me think about the path that led me to where I am today. In my years as a student to the department of state's first African American undersecretary, I have always wanted to work in public service,” Ambassador Jenkins said. “What led me to my decision for law school? Well, quite simply, I wanted to learn how to think like a lawyer and to analyze problems with a legal mind. I also wanted to be sure to learn how I could protect the rights of those of my family and my friends.”
“As woman of color, I have been in meetings where I can tell attendees may have certain beliefs about my capabilities. They would therefore act in a certain way. They try to pass their opinions, but do not let other people's issues create imposter syndrome. And don't be quick to believe what is said about you. Remember you are a role model. As you move up in your career, as you are doing today, you'll find that you are increasingly a role model to others. You never know who's looking at you. You never know whose life you may impact,” she said.
Professor Michael Hutter was named Friend of the Class and was presented the award by Class President Cathryn Crummey ’22. Crummey also presented the Class Gift, a memorial bench to be placed in the courtyard.
“We have developed the foundation to our careers and our life. We have learned that the world is seen through the law. And that we are now the interpreters and the translators of the law,” she said. “People dream of being a superhero. But what is it about a superhero that makes them so aspirational? It is not the suit they are wearing, but rather that they protect and defend. As lawyers, we are the protectors and defenders of this society. It is not what is on the surface, but rather our actions that define us.”
Professor Ted De Barbieri received the Faculty Award for Excellence in Scholarship; Professor Danshera Cords received the Faculty Award for Excellence in Service; Distinguished Professor Ira Bloom received the Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching. Full Story.
“The great Irish civil rights leader, Bernadette Devlin said “Yesterday I dared to struggle, today I dare to win,” Dean Ouellette said. “And you have won. You did what had to be done. You took on every challenge and overcame. And you did so as a community. People ask me all the time what’s special about Albany Law School. What’s different about us? My answer is always the same. We are a true community. We are as much a family as we are a school. And the way you have supported one another, the way you have pivoted, the way you powered through all that life has thrown at you over the past couple of years, speaks volumes about the kinds of professionals you will be.”
The graduates were officially welcome to the Albany Law School alumni community by National Alumni Association President Hon. Peter Crummey ’81.
"We serve where we are needed and the grand plan for our destiny may not be revealed to us on a daily basis. There is peace in embracing such an environment and being whole in what we have rather than perseverate on what we want,” he said. “Attorneys are always serving while on this planet and I am happy that such is our lot in life. Like life, attorneys work in environments which present successes and failures. We are defined by how we react to each."
As the graduates got ready to cross the stage, Dean Ouellette reminded them of the pillars of the legal profession.
“Along with opportunity comes responsibility. And I hope you’ll grab it. You have a responsibility to uphold the highest ethical standards of our profession, and a responsibility to your community. Where ever you land, I hope that you will spend time working together to contribute to the communities you are a part of,” she said. “As you focus on your careers, make sure to stop from time to time, to give to others, to give back, and to use the skills and knowledge you have attained as an Albany Law student to make this world a better place.”