American University Washington College of Law Celebrates Commencement 2014

VIEW VIDEO: Commencement Highlights Video in Honor of the Class of 2014

VIEW VIDEO: Full Commencement

VIEW VIDEO: Remarks by Judy Smith ‘86

VIEW VIDEO: Remarks by Marcus Childress

American University Washington College of Law welcomed Judy A. Smith ‘86, founder and president of Smith & Company, a leading strategic and crisis communications firm, and co-executive producer of ABC’s “Scandal,” as the 2014 Commencement Speaker. The law school's commencement was held May 18, 2014, at American University's Bender Arena.

Claudio Grossman, dean of American University Washington College of Law, introduced Smith after delivering remarks which recognized the accomplishments of the class of 2014 and paid tribute to the mission of the law school's founders.

“Let us remember that we are not simply spectators of life,” said Dean Claudio Grossman. “We have the transformative power that is provided by a superb legal education and your own commitment, imagination, and creativity. You have studied at a law school renowned for its unique ability to imagine and shape a better world. This important value started with our Founding Mothers.”

Smith (pictured left) was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws by American University President Neil Kerwin.

"Character matters,” said Smith, to the class of 2014, which graduated 464 JDs, 184 LL.M.s, and seven SJDs. “[Character] is how you lead your life. It is the kind of decisions you make. It is whether you lead a life of integrity. That is important. Your career—it is extremely important—but it is not what defines your success. What defines your success is your character.”

Prior to founding Smith & Company, Smith was a partner at several Washington, D.C.- based public relations firms. Before that, she served as senior vice president of corporate communications at NBC. Additionally, she served as NBC’s chief spokesperson for domestic and international programming and business ventures, and also helped with the groundbreaking launch of MSNBC. In 1991, Smith joined the White House with her appointment as special assistant and deputy press secretary to President George H. W. Bush. During her tenure she provided the president and his Cabinet with communications advice on a wide range of foreign and domestic issues.

Smith received a bachelor of science degree in public relations from Boston University and graduated from AUWCL in 1986, where she served as the first African-American woman to serve as the executive editor of the American University Law Review.

Student speaker for the ceremony, Marcus Childress, described the unique training he and his classmates received at AUWCL.

“We have all been changed,” said Childress. “We have been molded, shaped, and transformed to be abnormal—abnormal because we have been taught how to think creatively about the law, society, and the world around us.”

The commencement ceremony was followed by a reception attended by graduates, family, and friends on the American University Quadrangle.

Student Awards Announced at Commencement 2014

  • Administrative Law Review Award: Ehren Wade
  • Business Law Review Award: Elizabeth Grant
  • Edward C. Bou Award: JD – Yoonhee Kim; LL.M. – David Neukirchner
  • Clair A. Cripe Award: Christine Copsey; Louisa Slocum
  • Clinical Legal Education Association’s Student of the Year Award: Lyle Hedgecock; Stacey Pine
  • Dean’s Award for Professional Responsibility: Danisbel Avello; Angela Cabral; Joseph McGlew- Casteñeda; Anthony Silvestri; Sonia Torrico; Sofia Vivero
  • Gillett Prize: Thais-Lyn Trayer
  • Human Rights Brief Award: Christina Fetterhoff; Marie Soueid
  • International Law Review Award: Upasana Khatri
  • Journal of Gender, Social Policy & the Law Award: John Kowalko
  • Lura E. Turley Prize: Michael Castle Miller
  • Mussey Prize: FT: Irene Firippis, Claire Grandison, Sarah Lafreniere, Lauren Nussbaum, Elizabeth Turrin, Rebecca Wolf; PT: Stacey L. Pine
  • Mooers Trophy (Trial Advocacy): Rachel Curtis; Ryan Fanning; Kyle O’Grady; Corey Peterson
  • Outstanding Graduate Award (LL.M in Law and Government): Kristina Szabo
  • Outstanding Graduate Award (LL.M. in International Legal Studies): Harold Godsoe
  • Outstanding Research and Writing Award (LL.M. in Law and Government): Jed Sorokin-Altmann; Marya Torrez
  • Outstanding Research and Writing Award (LL.M. in International Legal Studies): Ruet Cohen and Danielle Edwards
  • Judge Jerry Mermele Book Award: Samuel Park
  • Outstanding Graduate Award (JD): Eleanor Atkins
  • Solf Award: David Neukirchner
  • T. Morton McDonald Scholarship Award: Matthew Smith
  • Thomas O. Sargentich Award (Law & Government): Krisztina Szabo and Marya Gassman Torrez
  • WCL Alumni Award: Talila Lewis