The Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law joined together as a community on Friday, May 20, 2022, for the 133rd Commencement Exercises.
Graduates from the Class of 2022 gathered in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception to celebrate their successful completion of law school. In addition to the graduates, faculty, and staff, friends and family were also in attendance to celebrate the occasion. Katherine Gamelin Crowley, Associate Dean for Student Affairs and Dean of Students, welcomed those in attendance, and following the invocation by Professor Emeritus Rev. Raymond C. O’Brien, Dean Stephen C. Payne made a few opening remarks. Dean Payne noted the bittersweetness of the occasion — having started his tenure as dean of the law school the same year as the day division graduates. He fondly shared several memories he’s made with the Class of 2022 before concluding, “Please remember that your law school can be an anchor for you in the midst of a challenging career. We’re here for you. We’re glad you’re ours. And we’re excited for you as you begin a new phase of life."
Timothy Armando Richard was elected to speak on behalf of the Class of 2022. In this moment of celebration, Richard took the opportunity to reflect on four dates that are particularly important for their class: August 14, March 11, August 23, and May 20. These days represent monumental moments in the lives of each member of the class — the start of law school, the start of the pandemic, the return to campus, and graduation. Each milestone brought with it new challenges that the Class of 2022 faced together and they are now prepared for the next chapter. “1005 days ago, or more, we took an oath to use our skills to make society better. Through the struggles of law school, the struggles of life, and the struggles of a pandemic we’ve done just that. In a few months, we will each take a similar oath as we are admitted to the bar as attorneys and take ownership of a new title: esquire. But that is all in the future. Right now, in this moment, as the Class of 2022 think about everything we’ve accomplished. Everything you’ve accomplished. And look to your left. Now look to your right. All of us have made it to graduation. Congratulations.”
The Honorable Barbara Lagoa was presented an Honorary Degree from the University. Mark Rienzi, Professor of Law and Director of The Center for Religious Liberty, made introductory remarks prior to the presentation. Judge Lagoa serves on the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. Upon her appointment, she became the first Hispanic woman and the first Cuban-American woman to serve on that court. She shared that same distinction as a justice on the Florida Supreme Court and, before that, as a judge, including as the chief judge, on Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal during her thirteen years of judicial service to the state of Florida. Prior to joining the bench, Judge Lagoa practiced in both the civil and criminal arenas. Following the presentation, Judge Lagoa delivered the 2022 Commencement Address. “Graduations are unique among the milestones of our lives — they celebrate our past accomplishments while also anticipating our future. And the future at times can be ... quite surprising,” Judge Lagoa shared. She then reflected on six points that will help the graduates succeed in both their professional and personal lives: change is inevitable, appreciate the present, the race is long, be strong, be kind, and say ‘yes.’
Dean Payne presented the Class of 2022 to The Catholic University of America President, John Garvey, for the Conferral of Degrees, then Professor Elizabeth Kirk — selected by the class to serve as Faculty Marshal — called the names of the graduates. Major award recipients were also recognized. Each award was given to one Day Division student and one Evening Division (with the exception of the John L. Garvey Award in which two Day Division students tied). For the John L. Garvey Faculty Award, Frankie Orrico and Jesse Raines (Day), and Victoria Murphy (Evening); for the Michael F. Curtin Pro Bono Award, Sarah Manning (Day) and Emily Thomas (Evening); and for the Alumni Association Award, Owen Eichen Salyers (Day) and Lauren Van Thiel Irish (Evening).
As the program drew to a close, President Garvey addressed the Class of 2022. He spoke about the humble virtue of kindness and the importance of cultivating it, especially in young lawyers.“We have taught you for three years to make clear and correct judgments, about what acts are legal, right, good, and just; and what are their opposites. If we have done our job well, this habit of thinking has become second nature. And this is a good thing. We need lawyers to make and enforce rules that keep society functioning smoothly. But you must guard against extending this habit from acts to people. [...] Keep this modest lesson in mind the first time you are tempted to make a sharp reply or a harsh judgment. If you can cultivate this homely little virtue, you will soon become everyone’s favorite counselor.” With a benediction from Sister Ruth Harkins, Associate University Chaplain for Graduate and Professional Students, and final congratulations from Dean Crowley the 133rd Commencement Exercises concluded.
Photos from the day can be seen on Catholic Law's Facebook page.
You can view a recording of the Commencement ceremony below.