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Law School Honors Class of 2013 at 125th Commencement Exercises

Provost, Dean, Speaker, Regent

Provost Karen Hanson, Dean David Wippman, Governor Mark Dayton, Regent Thomas Devine

MAY 21, 2013—The University of Minnesota Law School held its 125th commencement ceremony May 18 at Mariucci Arena. Law School Dean David Wippman welcomed the Class of 2013, their families and friends, and several special guests: University of Minnesota Regent Thomas Devine, Executive Vice President/Principal of the David Agency; Karen Hanson, University of Minnesota Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost; and keynote speaker Governor Mark Dayton.

In his opening remarks, Dean Wippman emphasized that the value of a legal education is in preparing students to undertake the reasoning and analysis necessary to illuminate complex questions in ways that make the rule of law both possible and invaluable. He encouraged graduates to look to both their left and right, saying, "Seated next to you are future leaders of the bench and bar, of government, business, and non-profits. In all likelihood, you will be one of those leaders."


Faculty Awards

Faculty Awards

Provost Karen Hanson, Adjunct Professor Sara Peterson, Professor Ruth Okediji, Dean David Wippman, Professor Robert A. Stein (’61), Professor Perry Moriearty, Regent Thomas Devine

After introducing the faculty to the commencement audience, Dean Wippman presented the annual Stanley V. Kinyon Teaching Awards for Excellence in Education, established by family and friends in honor of the late Prof. Stanley V. Kinyon (’33), a recognized commercial law scholar and member of the Law School faculty for 40 years. This year's awards were given to:

Robert A. Stein (’61): Overall Teacher
of the Year
Ruth Okediji: Tenured Teacher
of the Year
Perry Moriearty: Clinical Teacher
of the Year
Sara Peterson: Adjunct Teacher
of the Year

Student Awards


Kim Prchal, Claudia Vincze Turcean, Emily Peterson, Christopher Schmitter, Pari McGarraugh, Jorge Sepulveda, Paige Starkey

Three special student awards also were presented at the commencement ceremonies. Paige Starkey and Kim Prchal, members of the Graduation Committee, presented two of the awards, which were selected by the graduating class for exceptional contributions inside and outside the classroom during the three years of study.

The Excellence in Public Service Award was awarded to Claudia Vincze Turcean for her volunteer and non-profit legal work with the Asylum Law Project, Immigrant and Refugee Project in Florence Arizona, and Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services. Claudia also volunteered with the Volunteer Lawyers Network, completed a judicial externship and interned with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. She participated in the Immigration and Human Rights Clinic as a student attorney and served as a student director as a 3L. She was active in student groups and served as a board member for the Indian Services Project and Latino Law Students Association. She helped lead a Spanish Model United Nations Conference and used creative writing to encourage middle school students in Phoenix to pursue higher education.

The Outstanding Contribution Award went to Christopher Schmitter, who was elected to Law Council for a two-year term and was Law Council Treasurer during his 2L year. Chris was on the board of Common Grounds and the Law School Democrats, serving as Co-President of the group as a 2L. He was active in the Misdemeanor Prosecution and Defense clinics, and served as Student Director of the Prosecution Clinic. He worked as a Research Assistant for Professors Parisi and Hickman, and received an Upper Midwest Human Rights Fellowship his 1L summer to work in the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division. Chris was a member of the Minnesota Law Review and was Editor-in-Chief of the Law Review's 97th Volume.

Dean Wippman presented the third special student award—the William B. Lockhart Award for Excellence in Scholarship, Leadership, and Service—selected by a faculty committee. The award honors the Law School's fifth dean and 28-year faculty member for his dedication in enriching the curriculum, attracting leading scholars, and sharing his gift for teaching. This year's Lockhart Award was given to Pari McGarraugh who earned both a J.D. degree and a Master's in public health. While maintaining top grades, she collaborated with Law School faculty to co-author cutting-edge research articles on health law and bioethics. As a leader and mentor among her peers, she served as Managing Editor of the Minnesota Law Review, while participating in the Health Law and Bioethics Association, Health Disparities Student Work Group, and Theatre of the Relatively Talentless. She also completed more than 100 hours of legal service through the Asylum Law Project and as a volunteer with the Disability Law Center. She will clerk with the Honorable James Loken on the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Dean Wippman also called attention to numerous other students who were recognized for participation in journals, moot courts, and other activities at a special ceremony and reception on May 17.

Class Gift

Kim Prchal announced that the class of 2013 will continue the 3L Pledge Drive established three years ago to contribute financially to the Law School for the next five years. The generosity of this gift means that one person from the class of 2013 will receive a $5,000 fellowship to engage in public interest work.

LL.M. Class of 2013 Graduation Address

Jorge Sepulveda

Jorge Sepulveda

This year's LL.M. class of 47 students from 18 countries selected Jorge Sepulveda to provide a graduation address. Sepulveda received his law degree from Universidad de Chile School of Law, where he taught both criminal law and civil procedure for seven years. In addition, he served as an associate for Correa Gubbins, where he was in charge of the dispute resolution and antitrust areas for three years, and as a visiting scholar at Duke University Law School in 2012. He is returning to his former law firm. Sepulveda reflected on the academic "race" run by his fellow J.D. and LL.M. classmates this past year, acknowledging that they could not have reached the finish line without the help of supportive families, the International and Graduate programs office, and professors and staff at the Law School. While he had heard from others that Minneapolis is a cold place, Sepulveda said instead he learned that it is the warmest place he has ever visited because of the exceptional people. He encouraged his classmates to "spread all the knowledge, skills and experience we acquired here, in our respective countries. In doing so, we should never forget that as lawyers we have a have a huge personal and social responsibility."

J.D. Class of 2013 Graduation Address

Emily Peterson

Emily Peterson

Emily Peterson was chosen by her J.D. classmates to give the 2013 graduation address. A native of Duluth, she earned her B.A. in journalism in 2005 from the University of Minnesota. As an undergraduate, she won national awards for feature writing and in-depth reporting and was the managing editor of the Minnesota Daily. After college, Emily worked for five years as a reporter for the Star Tribune, covering the Minneapolis and St. Paul school districts and writing about statewide education policy issues. In law school, she received honors in legal writing and served on the Minnesota Law Review as a Note and Comment Editor. After her 1L year she worked in Washington, D.C., for the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. After her 2L year she worked as a summer associate at the law firm of Briggs and Morgan. She was head writer for the Theatre of the Relatively Talentless musical productions "Alawddin" and "Back to the Future Interest." Emily will work as a law clerk for Chief Justice Lori Gildea of the Minnesota Supreme Court before returning to Briggs and Morgan. Peterson outlined three guiding principles to help her fellow classmates as they begin their careers in law:

  • "Remember what you brought here. These are the reasons that you will keep going, to a career that will often ask more of us than we have to give."
  • "Don't forget the human element of legal work. Our work has real consequences, and we cannot forget how much we owe to the legal system we serve."
  • "Take pride in your work and recognize what you've accomplished. We know that our hard work has come at a price…and we owe a huge debt of gratitude to our family and friends."

Commencement Address

Mark Dayton

Governor Mark Dayton

Governor Mark Dayton provided the commencement address. Born and raised in Minnesota, Dayton graduated cum laude from Yale University where he played Division I hockey. After college, he taught ninth grade science for five years in a New York City public school. It was there that he decided to devote his life to improving social equality and economic opportunities for all Americans. For the past 27 years, Governor Dayton has served the people of Minnesota as Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Economic Development, State Auditor, United States Senator and Governor.

Dayton began his commencement address with recognition that the University of Minnesota Law School, as one of the top law schools in the country, has among its graduate ranks, numerous governors, members of Congress, Minnesota Supreme Court justices, U.S. ambassadors, Attorney Generals, presidents of large corporations, and a former U.S. Vice President.

Dayton encouraged graduates to make a difference: "Remember that you will make a living by what you earn. You will make a life by what you give away—your love, compassion, help, and understanding." He told the class of 2013, "The decision about your life's ultimate purpose or mission must be made by your heart and your soul, more than your intellect or your wallet." Dayton quoted anthropologist Carlos Castenada who once wrote, "All paths lead the same; they lead nowhere. Therefore, choose a path with heart. Try a path as many times as you must, then ask yourself, 'Does this path have a heart?'"

Dayton closed with what he said was the best advice he has ever received—a comment from Jacqueline Kennedy: "She said, if you fail at raising your children well, it doesn't matter what you accomplished with the rest of your life. So as you're climbing your ladder to success," Dayton said, "don’t forget the ones who mean the most to you—your family. Make a difference…sing your song…and have fun."

The Finale

TORT Singers

TORT singers David Szarzynski (’13), Erin McDonald (’13), Rachel Farhi (’15), David Pascoe (’14)

After remarks on behalf of the Board of Regents, Regent Devine conferred degrees on the J.D. and LL.M. graduates, who had selected Professors Ann Burkhart and John Matheson and Director of International and Graduate Programs Khary Hornsby (’05) to present their diplomas. Dean Wippman invited graduates and guests to a reception on the concourse level of Mariucci Arena, and the commencement ceremonies concluded with the singing of "Hail, Minnesota!" led by Rachel Farhi (’15), Erin McDonald (’13), David Pascoe (’14) and David Szarzynski (’13). The St. Anthony Brass Quintet provided accompaniment and departing procession music.


Read the commencement remarks from:

· Governor Mark Dayton
· Jorge Sepulveda (LL.M.)
· Emily Peterson (J.D.)