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“Today, in accordance with our long tradition, we issue to each of you a challenge. Each of you – the 134 who make up the class of 2017 – has come to us with a unique “story.” Each of you has made your decision to enter the legal profession through the prism of your own life experience.”

“You come from a variety of backgrounds and experiences. A great many of you are the first in your family to graduate from college. You come from privileged backgrounds and from poverty. Reflect on the tenacity of your classmate whose home was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy. Another was bed ridden for six months. Consider your classmate, able to join us today, who suffered a traumatic brain injury, as well as your classmate who is a true survivor – having experienced both homelessness and growing up in the foster care system. She not only had the drive to put herself through college but also became a stand-up comedian. I marvel at your tenacity and ability to overcome. Life is a contact sport and so many of you have gotten here by enduring and striving to be better. You don’t give up; you are winners.”