STCL Houston Grants Diplomas to 71 at December 2017 Commencement
Seventy-one newly-minted attorneys accepted their South Texas College of Law Houston (STCL Houston) diplomas at the law school’s December 2017 commencement ceremony on Saturday.
In front of approximately 1,500 friends and family members, the new alumni celebrated their shared accomplishment at the Hilton, Americas-Houston hotel in downtown just blocks from their alma mater.
Donald J. Guter, retired rear admiral, JAGC, USN – president and dean of STCL Houston and 37th judge advocate general of the U.S. Navy – presided over the ceremony and provided the law school’s welcome, applauding the honorees’ hard work and integrity, and noting that the faculty are “confident that… as South Texas graduates, [they] will enter the world’s noblest profession well-prepared to make a positive difference in people’s lives.”
Student speaker Ryan Swink, a Spring Branch resident, addressed his fellow graduates at the ceremony and commended their tenacity in earning a law degree. He said, “I would also like to thank the wonderful members of the STCL Houston faculty. They truly are amazing. If you ever want proof of that fact, walk around the sixth and seventh floors about a week before 1L memos are due. You’ll see about 10 students lined up in front of each legal writing professor’s office wanting to ask their professors questions about their memos.
“It’s truly an amazing sight for two reasons. First, because it shows the dedication and commitment of the professors to answer the same questions over and over again, and second, because it reminds me that just three short years ago, I was that guy standing in line, waiting to ask Professor Peters a question, thinking I was never going to survive law school.”
The students and guests then were treated to a commencement address by STCL Houston alumna and Memorial-area resident Imogen “Immy” Papadopoulos ‘84, member of the law school’s board of directors since 1999 and the board’s executive committee since 2002. She is a practicing board-certified family law attorney and a champion for children in the legal system. Among her many honors, she was STCL Houston’s Distinguished Alumna in 2003; recipient of the David Gibson Award for Professionalism and Excellence in Family Law, presented by the Gulf Coast Family Law Specialists; recipient of the 2007 Trailblazer for Youth Award, presented by Texas Network of Youth Services; recipient of the Warner Cable Company “Hometown Hero Award” for community work done for children; and she earned special recognition by former President Ronald Reagan.
Papadopoulos, who earned her law degree from STCL Houston at age 54, encouraged the graduates to use their degree to make the world a better place. Referring to herself as an “activist,” she said, “I’ve been passionate about the rights and welfare of children and families my entire life. Advocating for children and families is in the fiber of my being. It’s my North Star.
“My lessons along the way? You have chosen a courageous path… Your degree carries a very special responsibility, too. As a country we operate by the Rule of Law. You are keepers of the flame. Practice to respect and honor our institution of democracy and our Constitution. Honesty. Ethics. Integrity… The threads of trust and respect matter outside of the court, too. In business or public service or politics, it matters. Maybe doubly so. In those callings, you are the voice of the law. Not just its letters, but its great meanings and values.”
John J. Worley, associate dean, vice president, and professor of law, provided the official “presentation of graduates.” Professors Josh Blackman, Geoffrey Corn, Matthew Festa, Joseph Leahy, Bruce McGovern, and Shelby Moore served as faculty hood-masters.
Several members of the South Texas College of Law Houston board of directors participated in the event, in addition to Papadopoulos, including Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman ‘89, Chairman of the Board J. Ken Johnson ‘86, Larry Baillargeon ‘74, Genora Boykins ‘85, Elizabeth Campbell, Judge Robert Eckels ‘93, Michael Hays ‘74, Nick Lanza ’89, Gordon Quan ‘77, and Randy Sorrels ‘87.
At the ceremony’s conclusion, the graduates and their guests enjoyed a celebratory lunch provided by the Hilton, Americas-Houston.