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Tulane Law graduation honors resiliency of the Class of 2024

May 23, 2024 2:45 PM
Alina Hernandez ahernandez4@tulane.edu



Amid fanfare and celebration, Tulane Law School said goodbye to its 173rd graduating class, the Class of 2024, which overcame the early stages of the COVID pandemic and Hurricane Ida, forcing the start of their law school journey online.

Tulane Law conferred degrees on more than 300 students May 18, as hundreds of family, friends, colleagues, classmates, faculty and staff looked on. It was a day of celebration for the J.D.’s, the LLMs, S.J.D.’s, international students and the M.J.’s – the Master of Jurisprudence graduates, the law school’s online legal program.

“Like all others before it, this is a day of hard-earned joy and celebration,” said Interim Law Dean Sally Richardson. “Three years ago you set out on an adventure that has bonded you together through common rituals of hardship and triumphs.”

To the Juris Doctor and LLM degree students, the bulk of the graduating class, she reminded:

“These years of toil and triumphs have left you with a command of legal methods and doctrines and habits of critical thinking,” Richardson said.  “But they have left you with something else: They have steeped you in the norms and values of what it means to be in this profession what it means to be a lawyer.”

See a full gallery of photos here.

The Class of 2024 is full of scholars, leaders and public servants. Among the graduates were national moot court champions; the winner of the prestigious Burton Award, given to about 15 law students each year; a living organ donor; a student who was once homeless and now gives his service to the recovery of others; the daughter of Nigerian immigrants whose future is serving as an Air Force JAG Corps member; a brand-new mother whose law school community rallied to help her across the finish line; and dozens of students who gave hundreds of hours throughout their law school careers to pro bono service.

Missed graduation? Watch the full event here.

The Hon. Nancy Abudu (L'99).

Graduation speaker the Hon. Nancy Abudu (L’99), who made history a year ago as the first Black woman to serve in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, told the graduates that they should trust their journey and embrace their fears and do important but difficult work.

“There is courage in leaning into your fear…but then we have to move to the next stage and do it anyway,” said Abudu. “You are going to have a lot of forks in the road, and you might even have naysayers and people who try to put you in a box, but don’t let them. Challenge yourself and challenge others. Allow yourself to feel the fear but do it anyway.”

Class of 2024 President Roi Wallace – who teased that she had not told her family she was the graduation student speaker --  encouraged her classmates to “chop wood and carry water,” a saying from a motivational book that tracks the training of a Samurai archer. The book focuses on becoming great through consistent effort and determination, even with the simplest tasks.

Wallace is the President of the Class of 2024.

“Aside from all that has been thrown our way for us to reach this point,” Wallace said, “we have all been committed to the process of becoming a lawyer – from undergrad, to studying for the LSAT, to the first day of law school and the last day of classes, every sacrifice has put us in this position to walk this stage today.”

She added, “Your value comes from who you are, not what you do.”

See a full gallery of photos here.

Vice Dean Stacy Seicshnaydre announced two teaching awards voted on by the graduating class. The Monte Lemann Award, named in honor of a distinguished Tulane alumnus, practitioner, civic leader, and teacher, was awarded to Professor Saia Smith, who is the Assistant Director of Experiential Learning and whose tireless work has helped to streamline and expand the program.

The Felix Frankfurter Award, named in honor of the late U.S. Supreme Court justice and presented to a full-time faculty who, in the opinion of the graduating class, demonstrated an outstanding commitment to teaching and classroom instruction, was awarded to Professor Ronald Scalise (L’00), the John Minor Wisdom Professor of Civil Law and one of the nation’s leaders in the field.  Scalise has in his years at Tulane Law taught every course in the civil law program and is the editor of the annual pamphlet edition of the Louisiana Civil Code.