2014 LL.M. Class Commencement Address
Minne Bosma delivers the LL.M. Address
Minne Bosma of the Netherlands, was chosen by the LL.M. Class of 2014, composed of 67 students representing 20 countries, to deliver the LL.M. Graduation Address at the May 17, 2014, Commencement Ceremonies. Following is the text of his address.
Thank you Dean Wippman. Secretary Perez, members of the faculty, family and friends, distinguished guests and, foremost, class of 2014.
I am very proud to speak today on behalf of the LL.M. class of ’14. We shared an amazing year together at Minnesota Law School. There are 67 of us graduating today, from 5 continents and a total of 20 countries.
We started out in August, before the regular classes started, with an introductory course on the U.S. Legal System, where we had the opportunity to meet our soon-to-be LL.M. friends. We also started out believing stereotypes about each others' countries and cultures. It turned out that after sharing classes, meals and drinks, we were not so different after all. We are all human beings, who were just raised in a different manner, and no one of us has the patent on the truth in life. But more importantly, we all had an open mind and wanted to be part of the interconnected and globalized world. The stereotypes melted quickly and we started to learn about each other, but also about ourselves. Spending time in an international community might change personal ideas or practices too, regardless if this relates to the law or to our personal lives. You find out that things you took for granted can be done differently, too.
This is something that I especially like the most in being out of my comfort zone: the moment where you have to re-define yourself based on new surroundings. You can learn, analyze, discuss and afterwards adopt what you want to bring along to your next destination and what you leave behind.
During the year we got closer and spent more time together. LL.M. friends helped each other through academic stress, celebrated birthdays, Thanksgiving and the Chinese New Year, and some of us spent holidays together in the warmer states of the USA. A few of us took the bonding to a whole other level and succeeded in finding a significant other within our LL.M. group. And who would have thought that this Law School could even bring old wartime enemies France and Germany together? Best of luck to the happy couples. In all seriousness, if we are able to bond in such a short time with so many different backgrounds by simply accepting and respecting each others' differences while we interact, this gives me hope for the future and all the conflicts that are happening right now in the world. Interaction with an open mind and having respect for other human beings will get you at least half the way. I will certainly not be leaving this behind when I take off in a few weeks.
Another thing that I will bring along is the hardworking attitude of Americans, regardless of whether this is based on the need to survive or to strive for a better future. I also appreciate the faith Americans put in unknown men and women arriving from all over the world to become part of America and contribute to it. I think this is unique, and Americans should cherish that. As a result, and I hope I speak on behalf of all the LL.M.s, I felt very welcome in Minnesota and was never reduced to just being a foreigner.
One more thing that I didn't expect in capitalistic and corporate America was the dedication and drive from the students and professors to give back to society through different means, whether they have a preference for corporate or public interest law. Most of them spend precious time to volunteer, provide free legal advice in clinics, work altruistic internships over the summer, and use the rule of law to make the world a better place.
Back to the Law School and its community, where we spend most of our time and where we worked so hard to successfully reach this commencement day. At Minnesota Law School, LL.M. students are not separated but attend classes together with J.D. students. Most J.D.s welcomed us with open arms and were interested in our home countries, cultures, habits, languages and sometimes even in our legal systems. We easily merged into this small and warm community in Mondale Hall. We studied together for 1L classes, endured cold calls, took seminars, wrote papers, did group projects, spent long nights in the library, and had eight-hour exams. But we also shared lunches, drinks and laughter, played and watched sports together, and we especially enjoyed your fantastic musical. Thank you all for making us feel at home in your (and our) Law School.
There are more people who made this year even better than expected, and I would like to thank them for that. The International and Graduate Programs office including: Khary Hornsby, Dorothy Schlesselman, Maren Stoddard and Eleanor Lewis. You were always there when we needed you, and you guided us straight from the application process to today's commencement ceremony. You did a wonderful job. Thank you.
Our enthusiastic professors at the Law School. I can only conclude that most of you love your job, which affects your teaching in such a positive way. Your dedication to teaching, guiding, making us sweat, being critical of our ideas and also open to critique yourselves, was most important in helping us to grow to become better lawyers. You contributed greatly to another batch of international lawyers. Thank you.
Lastly, and the most important people in our lives, our partners, family and friends. Being away from home for such a long time makes us find out how happy we actually are having you in our lives. Without your blessings to follow our dreams—to study one year at an American law school—we could not have done it. Skype calls, moral and financial support, food packages, and especially unconditional love and friendship when we were too busy to make time for you, were crucial to us this year. To all of you who are here today: thank you for making the effort to fly so far to celebrate this special day together. For the ones that are watching this graduation online; thank you, too, and your loved ones are coming home very soon! Special thanks to my parents, Gabe and Nelly, for always supporting me and giving me the freedom to make my own decisions.
Where to now? We succeeded and most of us completed our adventure in the USA. Ambitious as we are, we all made new plans for the future. Some will go back to their home countries, and others will expand their international journey. But for all of us, we will turn out to be better lawyers, teachers, prosecutors, soon-to-be doctors and professors, litigators, public defenders, in-house counsels and judges after this LL.M.
We also have the potential to become leaders and mentors in this interconnected world, and I would encourage all of us to keep in mind what we have learned this year. Interact with human beings inside and outside of your comfort zone. Approach them with an open mind and respect. Learn from each other. Re-define yourself. And most of all use your intelligence, skills and precious time to make this world a better place for all of us, regardless of what you are doing or where you are going.
However, today is all about you, class of ’14, of which the Law School should be very proud. Today is your moment, so take your time to celebrate, enjoy life, act crazy if you like, and especially be proud of what you have achieved.
Congratulations to all of you. Thank you.