The law school’s fifth commencement exercises on May 17 offered an exuberant appraisal of the accomplishments of the Class of 2013.
From Class of 2013 graduate Eddie Kang's soulful version of the National Anthem to class speaker Josef Mensah’s observation that “we are better together,” the ceremony celebrated the graduates’ cohesiveness, its high spirits and its even higher ideals.
Dean Roger Dennis recounted that colleagues in the practicing bar “constantly” comment on the competence and maturity of Class of 2013 members who have completed co-op, clinic and pro bono work in the community.
Dennis said he has drawn inspiration from numerous members of the class, including:
- Barkha Patel and Eileen Somers, who won their case in the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, allowing a woman to proceed with an employment discrimination claim
- Kimberly Schulze and Nick Verna, who coached a Philadelphia high school student to a “Best Respondent” performance in the National Marshall-Brennan Moot Court Competition in Washington, D.C.
- Kate Brown and Jack Stucker, who received two of just three Independence Foundation fellowships awarded to law school students in 2013
- Krystal Kane, whose pro bono service included contributing to the launch of an Irish Immigration Clinic
- Erica Cohen, whose writings in a Philadelphia Inquirer blog that the FDA abolish a ban on blood donations by gay men sparked keen interest by the news media
- Eamon Gallagher and Mauricio Cuellar, who nurtured a budding alliance between the law school and the Keiretsu Forum, a major group of early-stage investors.
Praising the graduates for their hard work, Drexel Trustee and Law School Board Chairman Tom Kline said there is no shortage of “righteous causes” for which their skills are needed.
Mensah joked that law school has ruined the graduates' simple enjoyment of action flicks, since they now would expect characters representing law enforcement to establish probable cause before kicking down someone's door. But Mensah said that the isolated individuals who arrived to study law three years ago had traveled far together and formed a remarkable and supportive community.
In her remarks to the class, the Honorable Pamela Pryor Dembe, the president judge of the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, said the graduates’ understanding of technology will help them drive needed change in the tradition-bound profession of law. Dembe also exhorted the graduates to re-engage citizens in the democratic system.
“Democracy cannot exist if some citizens think it is a good idea to hunker down in survivalist mode in expectation of some kind of attack by their own government,” Dembe said, adding that the class knows how to use communication tools and media to reach, persuade and lead the public.
“This is what lawyers have always done,” said Dembe, who received an honorary degree.
Drexel University President John Fry and Provost Mark Greenberg also presented an honorary degree to H. Fitzgerald Lenfest, a leader in both the cable television industry and philanthropy, having given more than $1 billion dollars to Philadelphia’s civic and cultural institutions as well as financially needy college-bound students.