Suffolk University students and alumni are “knocking it out of the park” as agents of change, according to ABA President Elect Paulette Brown.
She was one of many commencement 2015 speakers and honorary degree recipients praising the University’s community engagement commitment and urging graduates to continue applying the values learned at Suffolk as they pursue their careers. The honorees’ commencement weekend comments are excerpted below.
Read more about the University’s community engagement and some of the people committed to making life better in the city, nation, and world.
Selections from Commencement 2015 speeches
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker
At commencement dinner:
“There are a lot of terrific institutions of higher education in Massachusetts, but I would be hard pressed to find one that has done more good things for state and local government in this commonwealth than Suffolk University. … I’m going to be here tomorrow to speak at your commencement because a lot of those young men and women are going to choose to spend time – and many will choose to make a career – out of public service. And any time I have a chance to stand in front of a room of young people whom I believe want to make a mark on the quality of our government and the quality of our communities, I’m going to take it.
In address to College of Arts & Sciences graduates:
“Suffolk University, over the years, has done a wonderful job of contributing many leaders to state and local government here in the commonwealth. ... And as somebody who appreciates and believes in the difference that public service can make, I find Suffolk to be one of the true crown jewels in the commonwealth’s constellation of higher education institutions.”
At commencement dinner:
When I think of how many pro bono hours the law students have already put in before they have even graduated from law school, it gives me hope for the future of our noble profession. It gives me a great deal of encouragement about what we can expect from the young lawyers who graduated from Suffolk Law School today. I am so proud of all that has been done by this law school and this university and just so privileged and honored to be here.
In address to Law School graduates:
“Your education here at Suffolk Law School has given you the tools to be agents of change. … Suffolk has one of the country’s very few housing discrimination testing projects. … It’s my understanding that student test have resulted in three separate enforcement actions by the attorney general’s office. You should be very proud.
“Suffolk’s innovative Accelerator-to-Practice program was highlighted earlier this month at the ABA’s national summit on innovation in legal services at Stanford University. … This program, the first of its kind anywhere in the United States, is preparing graduates to join or to start sustainable law practices serving moderate-to-low-income individuals and families.
“And then, there’s the 16,000 hours of pro bono legal services undertaken by Suffolk Law students at nonprofits, government agencies, and NGOs. These efforts are all having a huge impact on underrepresented groups.
“These graduates are already knocking it out of the park. They have already started to make a difference, and the possibilities will increase exponentially now that you have earned your degree. … As you have been taught here at Suffolk, there is no shortage of opportunities for every type of practicing lawyer to give back.”
Boston Globe Editor
“I have no doubt that with your Suffolk education you are exquisitely prepared for what’s next. I’ve lived in this city all my life. And in doing such, you can’t help but get to know Suffolk. … And to know Suffolk is to have a profound respect for what goes on here, to truly appreciate the character of the school and its students.
“The thing about Suffolk is that there are high expectations here, but there is no entitlement. There is much hope, but there are no airs. There is great pride, without a whit of hubris. … You are uniquely equipped to step out into this great city and into the larger world. You have a running start on character and values because your school has instilled them into you.”
Associate Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
At commencement dinner:
“When we opened the John Adams Courthouse … we were interested to see if we could partner with someone to help us create a real-time broadcast of our proceedings over the Internet. … No one responded except Suffolk. Suffolk said, yeah, we’re with you on this. … And we broadcast all of our proceedings in real time, live over Suffolk University’s website and also over the SJC’s website. I was so impressed with their willingness to step up.
“When we decided that our juror information film, which introduces everyone to the responsibilities of being a juror, was a little old, we asked for some help, and Suffolk stepped right up and created a brand-new introductory film that is seen by 250,000 to 300,000 jurors every year as they show up for their service, and it’s just awesome. So we owe all of you great thanks from the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts--personally, professionally, and I really love this school; it’s really terrific.”
In Law School commencement address:
“For 110 years, Suffolk Law School has been training lawyers who have made a difference. You are its most recently trained corps. Make the school, your profession, and most importantly, your family and your loved ones proud.”
Principal, Millennium Partners, Boston
“What you’re called is not the same thing as what you do. Building a downtown is something that no one does alone. This school is an important presence on Washington Street. It saw things that no one else did. … Suffolk picked up what could have been called a theater 75 year ago but was a really pile of rubble … and made it into the Modern Theatre, which is not only a thing, but a place where people come, where community comes, where the candidates for mayor were interviewed on television. ... Bringing students to this neighborhood was a stroke of pure vision and genius. …”
“… It’s important to delve deep, to get beneath the surface, to look at what’s really going on. And the virtue that Suffolk University brings to the student is exactly that. …It’s about understanding how to do it, what is important in doing it, and then learning how to practice. Practicing while you’re working, working while you’re practicing is a tremendous virtue in education, one that very few institutions understand, much less encourage. I’m happy to be part of it, and I’m happy to be a neighbor to Suffolk University.”
Congressman William Keating
Massachusetts 9th District
One thing that I think deserves a lot of recognition about Suffolk Law School …and that’s their commitment to the evening school. And there are so many people that because of their vocational responsibilities, because of their economic situations, because of familial obligations, that never would have gone to law school if it weren’t for the access that was there … and the quality of that education. And that is something that changed my life a great deal. … Just the narrow, narrow circle of my law school study group … one of them became a judge; one of them is still a district attorney; one of them was a litigator in the Microsoft case. There were folks in that little, small group that were lawyers and counselors for non-profits, that did pro bono work, that worked for NGOs that changed people’s lives daily. And they wouldn’t have had that opportunity to improve the lives of all of us without that access in the evening school at Suffolk. … And it’s not just the policy of having that school, it’s the personal nature of that school. .. They care about who you are and what you want to be.
Rev. Gloria E. White-Hammond, M.D.
Co-pastor of Bethel AME Church
Executive Director of My Sister’s Keeper
“Thank you for the encouragement that this honor represents. … Thank you to … this great university. Tonight you embolden me by your partnership. Together each one of you, every day and in your own way, you let your little light shine. Together we put our hands on our hips, and we cure the darkness and we say: I don’t think so”
Executive Director of Farm Aid
At commencement dinner:
“I actually have very few regrets in my life, but one of them has been building up tonight, and that is that I didn’t go to Suffolk. “
In remarks to College of Arts & Sciences graduates:
“All of you graduates can bandage wounds of others and heal the world. You will be called upon to see and prevent injustice, whether it impacts us directly or indirectly, whether it is our own homeless here in Boston, or those on the streets of Ferguson or Baltimore or in the many conflicts in the Middle East.
“My father, Steven Mugar, came to this country from Armenia the same year that Suffolk University was founded in 1906. … Had they stayed in their homeland, the family might very well have perished along with a million and a half other Armenians. …He and his family opened a small neighborhood market in Watertown Square, Star Market, which he developed into several other supermarkets in the greater Boston area. He honored this history by giving back, including a gift to Suffolk Law School many years ago. When speaking of these gifts while receiving an honorary degree at Suffolk 55 years ago, my father said: ‘I feel very strongly that those who come to the United States from abroad owe a debt to this country just as surely as if they had signed a contract. And I believe strongly that the best way to pay this debt is through educational institutes. My giving to local colleges is also my partial repayment in gratitude for the patron of our customers at Star Market over the many years.’ I am proud to be a part of that history.
“You are now equipped to go out from this university and to ... meet opportunities with your passion and your new skills. To step out and to make a difference.”
Chief of Economic Development, City of Boston
“Our mayor, Martin J. Walsh, congratulates Suffolk for graduating another cohort of amazing individuals who continue to make Boston and the Greater Boston area the best metropolitan area in the world.”