Congratulations Class of 2014!
On May 18, the Boston University School of Law community convened at the Agganis Arena for the 141st Commencement ceremony. The Honorable Juan R. Torruella ('57), U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, delivered the Commencement speech, presented his nephew Jorge with his diploma, and joined the graduates and their families in the celebration.
Following Judge Toruella's address, LL.M. student Zainab Ali and J.D. student Chaloea Williams delivered two exceptional speeches. Having received their degrees, the 454 graduates mingled and rejoiced at a reception following the ceremony.
- Ordering photos & videos from the ceremony
- Judge Torruella's remarks (video)
- About Judge Torruella
- Zainab Ali (LL.M. in American Law) delivers LL.M. student address
- Chaloea Williams delivers J.D. student address
- Awards & prizes
A photographer took photographs of students receiving their diplomas and candids throughout the day. These images are available for purchase via SmugMug here.
The live video production on the Terriervision video screens inside Agganis Arena has been converted to DVD format. The DVD includes the entrance procession of the graduates, on-stage presentations including awarding of diplomas, and speakers. You can order your DVD by visitng Kitay Productions's website.
Juan R. Torruella was born in 1933 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1954, and his law degree from Boston University School of Law in 1957. Judge Torruella also earned his LL.M. from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1984, and his M.P.A. from the University of Puerto Rico School of Public Administration in 1984.
Judge Torruella worked in private practice from 1959-1974. On November 18, 1974, he was nominated to the U.S. District Court for Puerto Rico by President Gerald Ford, receiving his commission on December 20, 1974. He served as chief judge from 1982-1984. On October 30, 1984, Judge Torruella was appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit by President Ronald Reagan. He served as chief judge from 1994-2001.
Judge Torruella has served as president of the Court of Arbitration for Sports in Vancouver, Canada, for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games and in London, England, for the 2012 Summer Olympic Games. He was a member of Puerto Rico's Olympic Yachting Team and competed in the 1964, 1968, 1972, 1976, 1984 and 1988 Olympic Games. He received a silver medal in yacht racing at the 1966 and 1974 Caribbean Games and has since been inducted into Puerto Rico's Sports Hall of Fame.
Judge Torruella has been the recipient of several awards including a Silver Shingle Award from Boston University School of Law in 1985, and in 1998, the International Olympic Committee honored him with the Committee's highest recognition, the Olympic Order.
Judge Torruella's hobbies include oil painting, stamp collecting and sailing.
"It may seem that we are only taking the title of Masters in Law with us today, but in fact we are taking a lot more. We are also taking the guidance of the administration, the wisdom given to us by professors, new experiences and innumerable memories to cherish, and most importantly, friendships that span across the world and transcend all geographical borders and boundaries."
Dear friends, family members, professors, and esteemed guests – we are all here to celebrate the LL.M. class of 2014 and its journey in this one year; and what a journey it has been!
Through our fair share of challenges, accomplishments, and lessons learned, each one of us has grown through it all. It is hard to believe that such a profound journey began just last summer, as students poured in to Boston University from all corners of the world. It started with seemingly trivial tasks of figuring out how the T works or working out the most efficient route to the law tower – yet, beginning with the outward exploration of the city of Boston was the perfect complement to the internal exploration that we all were soon to begin at BU.
A hundred and forty seven students from fifty-three different countries, we came from all walks of life. Some of us came as professionals wanting to further our careers; some of us came as students continuing our education; and some of us came simply to rekindle our passion for the study and practice of law. Each one of us came for different reasons, but at the bottom of it, we came because we all wanted to do more.
We all came with high expectations from ourselves, and this was to be matched by the high standards of the LL.M. Program. Keeping up with the coursework was certainly a daunting task, but this push to do more was matched by a support system that was evident from day one of orientation. It consisted of gestures like “Friday reminders” and special TA sessions just for LL.M.s. The doors of the administration were always open to us, and their support gave us confidence in pursuing our goals.
And no wonder BU stands on number one in excellent professors, and we experienced why. Our professors not only taught us, but also motivated each one of us individually. Whether through a class trip to the opera with professor Lahav, exchanging law jokes over Thanksgiving dinner with professor Beerman, or having our advisors’ undivided attention while discussing our classes to our social lives, I noticed time and again how faculty and staff went out of their way to connect with us. I know I speak for all of us in expressing my sincerest gratitude for everything that you have done for us.
And that brings me to you, my peers, with whom I embarked on this journey. Each one of you has picked up valuable lessons of your own, but the greatest value has been the one of a collective journey. Together we accomplished more than any one of us could have done alone, because for each individual challenge, we found each other’s support; for each accomplishment, followed a collective celebration; and for each person’s growth, beams today our collective pride.
We came together in a way that I could have only hoped for and that will always be a part of me. It is because of the richness of the LL.M. student body that I learned about civil law alongside common law, and it’s the reason why I learned how to salsa and taught others how to Bhangra. My language skills now include phrases from Spanish, German, and Turkish. This was only made possible because of how we came together to trust and to be there for each other. You, my peers, have truly been my home away from home, and for that, I’ll always be grateful.
Sharing in our collective pride today, we are especially thankful to our parents, family members, and loved ones, who are here with us today. Had it not been for the Skype calls made by us, to you at various ungodly hours, from the empty classrooms and corridors of the law tower, it would not have been possible for us to get to this day. It goes without saying that your role in our lives is the reason for our achievements so far and many more accomplishments to come.
It may seem that we are only taking the title of Masters in Law with us today, but in fact we are taking a lot more. We are also taking the guidance of the administration, the wisdom given to us by professors, new experiences and innumerable memories to cherish, and most importantly, friendships that span across the world and transcend all geographical borders and boundaries. We hope that the world can come together some day, the way our tiny world came together, with no distinction of race, culture, ethnicity, or religion. The LL.M. Programs at BU made it all possible, and, for that, I speak for all of us in saying, thank you!
For me the start of the LL.M. Program came at an especially testing time, and the endless support of my parents and siblings has helped me see my challenges through. On a particularly difficult day, my motivation comes from my dad quoting my favorite poet and perhaps these words will assist one of you some day:
“Don’t be afraid of the furious, turbulent winds Oh Falcon!
These blow only to make you fly higher.”
Thank you, and thank you all for listening to me today. It has been an honor.
"I challenge you to commit to embracing difference, even when it forces you to question your own beliefs. And I encourage you to remain open to growing and learning from your peers that collectively we may become the extraordinary lawyers and leaders we are destined to be."
Greetings, Dean O'Rourke, esteemed faculty & staff, and my fellow law graduates.
I’d like to begin by thanking the friends and family members helping us celebrate the end of a tiresome journey. Immediate family, extended family, significant others, less significant others, friends, and “frenemies,” we honor you today. Some might say that loving a law student is not easy. You’ve endured three years of incessant questioning, endless complaints, and really bad law school jokes. So today, we thank you for your sacrifices, encouragement, and most importantly, your patience.
Thank you all for being patient with me, as I stand in awe of this moment, and in awe of you, Law School Graduates. It is an honor to be here and a privilege to share the stage with the Honorable Judge Juan Torreulla, a distinguished graduate of our prestigious institution. As both an Olympian and a scholar on important issues facing our country, Judge Torreulla truly stands out amongst his peers. His distinct legacy is one that alumni and current students will take pride in for years to come.
In fact, there is something we can all learn from Judge Torreulla’s legacy, something that I wish I would have known on the first day of law school. In our profession, it is OKAY to be different, and it is IMPORTANT to engage others in conversations about difference. Judge Torreulla shared this sentiment during his 1996 Spotlight Address when he informed his audience that neither, “the complexity of the subject [nor] our concessions to the brevity of life should deter us from exchanging views, for we must start at some point, and now is as good a time as any.”
Unfortunately, I did not understand the urgency and meaning behind those words at the beginning of my law school career. As a 1L, there is a lot of pressure for you to fit in and not stick out, to conform and not confront, and to do your best to hit the curve (literally) before you strike out. In fact, the fear of sticking out caused us to do some pretty ridiculous things in the first few weeks of 1L. My first day, I even showed up to class in a suit. Naturally, I died inside to see all of you in jeans and flip-flops. I may have been alone in that attempt to blend in, but I know for a fact that we all spent 100 more hours in the library than necessary. We walked up six flights of stairs because we were terrified of being late to class, we were afraid of being judged for actually using the elevator, or we feared being trapped in the elevator—which is entirely rational considering the state of the tower these days.
But thankfully it got better! After a while, I began to notice people emerge from black letter law shelters, and challenge the status quo. Over the next couple of years, you tenaciously embraced the diverse interests and passions that brought you to law school, and empowered countless others to do the same.
Today it is not just our capacity to withstand three grueling years of the B Line that we celebrate. We also celebrate the fact that you dared to distinguish yourselves from the law student prototype, and you did so in just about every way possible. Your colleague competed on Jeopardy, members of this class fought for the tower’s gender-neutral bathroom, you represented BU across the world from Dubai to Oxford and even in the great state of New Jersey, you rallied for Trayvon Martin, you ran in this year’s Boston Marathon, and you even quoted Beyoncé in Employment Law. In the words of Beyoncé herself, you are FLAWLESS.
It does not escape me that I stand here before your on the 60th Anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education reflecting with great pride on your willingness to be different and your openness to exchanging views with peers of a different race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, and ideological background. These conversations were not always easy—and at times our differences pushed us apart just as much as they brought us together. However, learning to respect our differences has united us in ways that mere apathy to difference could not. At the very least, we are all more critical thinkers and we will be better lawyers, because we endeavored to open our minds to another’s perspective.
Class of 2014, in honor of far we have come and in light of how far we have to go, I challenge you to commit to embracing difference, even when it forces you to question your own beliefs. And I encourage you to remain open to growing and learning from your peers that collectively we may become the extraordinary lawyers and leaders we are destined to be. With that, I salute you, Law Graduates. Well done!
Sebastian Horsten Prize for Academic Achievement, to the LL.M. in American Law student who has achieved the highest cumulative average in the class of 2014: Shigeru Sasaki
American Law Outstanding Achievement Award, for excellence in academic achievement, honorable conduct and contributions to the class: Pablo Andres Acevedo Alvarez
Graduate Tax Program Academic Achievement Award, for the highest cumulative average in the class of 2014: Christopher Odell
Ernest M. Haddad Award, to the graduating Graduate Tax Program student who best exhibits overall ability, taking into consideration academic achievement, character, and potential to serve the public interest: Megan Cade Neal
A. John Serino Outstanding Graduate Banking and Financial Law Student Prize, for overall performance, in terms of academic achievement and dedication to the highest standards of scholarship and service: Tara Manjee Rehamtulah
Dennis S. Aronowitz Award for Academic Excellence in Banking and Financial Law, for the highest cumulative average in the class of 2014: Anaïs Badour
Faculty Award for Academic Accomplishment, for the most scholarly progress in the third year: Edward Yun Sun Tsui
William L. and Lillian Berger Achievement Prizes, for exemplary scholastic achievement: Anne Fraser Hancock and Joseph August Lingenfelter
Faculty Awards for Community Service, for exceptional dedication to the ideals of community service: Katelyn M. Kramer and Elizabeth Ann McIntyre
Peter Bennett Prize, to the graduating third-year J.D. law student receiving the highest grade point average for that year: Eric Fair Christianson
Spencer R. Koch Memorial Award, for outstanding contributions to achieving the goals of the Esdaile Alumni Center through alumni outreach: Sarah Mari Damerville
Honorable Albert P. Pettoruto Memorial Award, for excellence in the field of probate or family law: Tekhara Lane Kimber
Melville M. Bigelow Scholarship Awards, to a members of the graduating class who show the greatest promise as scholars and teachers in law: Joanne R. Oleksyk and Leah Beth Segal
Warren S. Gilford Humanity and Law Prize, to a student who shows humanitarian interest in law, primarily by taking a job in the public sector after graduation: Elizabeth M. Hasse
Alumni Academic Achievement Award, for the highest cumulative average in the three-year program of law study: Eric Fair Christianson
Sylvia Beinecke Robinson Award, for a significant contribution to the life of the School of Law: Jared Louis Shwartz
Dr. John Ordronaux Prize, awarded to a member of the graduating class for the most exemplary academic performance and leadership: Michelle R. Pascucci
Michael Melton Award for Excellence in Teaching is named for a longtime faculty member who taught in the tax area and was director of the Graduate Tax Program, who died in 1999 at 53: Khiara M. Bridges
John Stephen Baerst Award for Excellence in Teaching, named for the former director of the Morin Center for Banking and Financial Law (now the BU Center for Finance, Law & Policy), who died in 2006: Cornelius K. Hurley