RALEIGH — Pittsboro, North Carolina, resident James Murray was among the graduates Campbell University’s Norman Adrian Wiggins School of Law conferred 145 Juris Doctor degrees on Friday, May 12, during its 45th hooding and graduation ceremony at the J.S. Dorton Arena.
“Today is a transitional point in your lives,” Dean J. Rich Leonard told the graduates. “For the rest of your days, no matter what you are doing, whether you are a prosecutor or a public defender, a civil litigator or criminal defense attorney, a judge, a corporate officer, a government official, or a parent at home raising children, when the question is asked, 'What do you do?' you are entitled to proudly answer, 'I am a lawyer.'”
Nottingham Law School Deputy Dean Matthew Homewood on behalf of Nottingham Trent University, United Kingdom, bestowed four Master of Laws (LL.M.) degrees to Heidi M. High of Hankasalmi, Finland, Erin Leigh Basinger of Kannapolis, LeAnne McAbee of Wilkesboro and Judge Donna Elizabeth "Beth" Tanner of Kinston.
"Enjoy every part of this day and take a moment to reflect on what you have achieved," Homewood said. "It's amazing."
Campbell University Board of Trustees Chairman Gene Lewis III told the class of 2023, who began their law school journey during the pandemic, they have risen to the challenge.
"You are our future ... Your tool chest is full and, with what you have learned during the pandemic, your class is best equipped to transform the legal profession ... Seize your future and do great and good things."
North Carolina's First Lady Kristin Cooper was the commencement speaker. In her entertaining and inspirational speech, Cooper encouraged the graduates to break out of their comfort zones and continue to challenge themselves by learning new things and seeking out those with whom they fundamentally disagree.
"Your law degree gives you options," she explained. "I encourage you to go on to have lives that are not just about making money but finding joy. Don't fear failure. Seek justice and love mercy. You are all going to shine like diamonds. I can't wait to see what you are going to do."
Valedictorian Sofia Peri Baneth told her classmates that just 0.4 percent of the U.S. population works as a lawyer, making it a privilege that also comes with responsibilities, including explaining the law, working hard for clients, solving problems and continuing to support each other while representing the Campbell Law School community.
She wrapped up her remarks with, "Guess what? Y'all, we did it!," which was received with a huge round of applause.
Find photos of the ceremony on the law school's Facebook page at this link (https://www.facebook.com/campbelllawschool) and watch the graduation ceremony's Live Stream recording at this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GA3wV6bY0o4&t=0s.