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UC Hastings 133rd Annual Commencement Ceremony

This album is posted on the UC Hastings Facebook page.

UC President Janet Napolitano told graduates at UC Hastings’ 133rd Commencement May 10, 2014 that she “envied all the fresh opportunities that lie ahead for you to make a difference in the world.” Napolitano addressed some 400 graduates and more than 4,500 invited guests at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco.

Watch: Commencement 2014

After an introduction by Chancellor & Dean Frank H. Wu, Napolitano congratulated students for entering a “family of alumni that has demonstrated an incredible commitment to public service—an incredible commitment to making a difference.”

Napolitano invoked the legacies of four legal giants whose reputations are bound with UC Hastings: Ambassador Chris Stevens ’89; Willie Brown Jr. ’58; Congressional Representative Jackie Speier ’76; and Clara Foltz, a divorced mother of five who sued UC Hastings for admission in 1879 and became the first woman lawyer on the West Coast.

She spoke of Stevens’ service in the Peace Corps and in Benghazi, where he was killed in an attack on the embassy there. She spoke of Brown’s rousing speech at the raucous 1972 Democratic National Convention. And she spoke movingly about Rep. Speier’s injuries when she and Congressman Leo Ryan were shot, Ryan fatally, on a tarmac as they attempted to investigation the Peoples Temple cult in Guyana. The Jonestown massacre, as it came to be known, claimed the lives of 918 in 1978, most in a mass murder in which many were forced to take their own lives.

Foltz, Napolitano noted, authored a state bill that replaced “white male” with “person,” allowing women and people of color to become attorneys in California. In September 1878, she passed the bar and became the first woman admitted to the California Bar. At the insistence of its women students, Hastings College of the Law granted Foltz a posthumous degree of Doctor of Laws in 1991.

“You have received a Hastings education,” she told graduates. “So you know the role that public service plays in giving a career, and a life, true purpose. … Now it’s your turn. What will be your path? I, for one, am excited to see what this, the Class of 2014, will accomplish.” (Read the full speech here.)

Valedictorian Max Mazzelli ’14

Valedictorian Max Mazzelli ’14 spoke of the diversity of the class, and his steadily deteriorating eyesight. “I literally can’t see anything beyond this podium,” referring to the reading load of the “three-year emotional hurricane that is law school.”

John Beard '14 & Professor Crawford

Each year, the graduating class votes on one student and one professor to address the graduates. This year, John Beard gave a humorous account of the wisdom he gained at the Tenderloin bar the Brown Jug and “clerkships at the food court in the mall.”

Some people think “success is fleeting, failure is forever,” he said. “And that’s not true.”

“At least I don’t think it is. If you don’t believe me, then you must either feel untouchable or doomed. Both are equally boring, and whichever way you swing, your stories will suck. If people still had cocktail parties, no one would want to talk to you. I think I promised you optimism earlier. That still may or may not happen. “

“I guess what I am trying to say is don’t mind losing a bit here and there. Each loss is but a scratch. Take heart that no one has yet to say death by a thousand scratches.“

He concluded with sage advice from playwright George Bernard Shaw. ‘I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty and besides the pig likes it.’ With all respect to Shaw, if you care to learn anything from anyone today, it’s the pig. One, they are intelligent. Two, they look out for each other. And three, when it comes to success and failure, it’s all just mud so you might as well find a way to enjoy all of it. “

But the crowning moment of the event came in the address given by Professor John Crawford. He delivered a humble and bittersweet message to graduates, who entered UC Hastings the same year he joined the college to teach Property Financial Crises and the Regulation of Financial Institutions.

After quoting Rainer Maria Rilke’s gentle wisdom of being patient enough to “live ourselves into the answers” of the questions of our lives, he ended with a cappella tribute to the Class of 2014, singing Adele’s “Someone Like You.”

Never mind we’ll find someone like you.
We wish nothing but the best for you, too
Don’t forget us, we beg
We remember you said
Sometimes it lasts in law,
But sometimes it hurts instead.

Graduates applauded wildly, and then dispersed to Grove Street for a small street party.


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