WMU-Cooley Law School honors 112 graduates

WMU-Cooley Law School presented 98 Juris Doctor and 14 Master of Laws degrees to graduates during the law school’s commencement ceremony for the Michigan campuses (Auburn Hills, Grand Rapids, and Lansing) at the Michigan State Auditorium on Sunday, May 20.

Kyona McGhee, who was chosen by her classmates, provided the valedictory remarks and Elizabeth Joy Fossel, of counsel at Varnum  in Grand Rapids and the current president of the Grand Rapids Bar Association, provided the keynote. Additionally, WMU-Cooley President and Dean Don LeDuc presented Ameer Alkhalidi with the President’s Achievement Award and Cody J. Brooks of the Grand Rapids campus (who was the subject of a Grand Rapids Legal News article April 4) with the James E. Burns Memorial Award for graduating summa cum laude (4.0 grade point average).

McGhee spoke to her fellow graduates about Pauli Murray, a 1944 Howard School of Law student and the only female in her class, who wagered a $10 bet with a professor that Plessy v. Ferguson would be overturned in 25 years. McGhee noted even though Murray’s classmates and professor disagreed with her, she still chose to write her final law school paper on how Plessy could be overturned, a paper that was used as the  foundation of the Supreme Court argument in Brown v. Board of Education by Thurgood Marshall.

“Graduates, you too, may have ideas that lack support. You too, may have legislation that you want enacted or laws that you want overturned,” said McGhee. “Nonetheless, no matter if you have to stand alone or in a crowd; as a woman, minority, poor, or all three; never stop fighting for the things that set your soul on fire...”

During her keynote, Fossel, herself a WMU-Cooley graduate, spoke about pride, openness, engagement, and hope. She encouraged the graduates to be proud of themselves and their law school. 
“This is a day to celebrate your accomplishments. Today is a culmination of your hard work, perseverance, your grit, and determination. What started as a dream to be a lawyer, all of you will leave here today with Juris Doctor behind your name,” said Fossel.

Speaking about reasons individuals may have chosen to attend WMU-Cooley, including non-traditional students, Fossel asked the graduates to visualize the diversity among them.
Listing the professions of those earning their degrees, Fossel said, “There are former paralegals, teachers, members of the military..., realtors, police officers, and even a professional hockey player. [They] range in age from 24 to 58 years old, representing 22 states and three countries.”

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