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‘The leaders, the motivators, the mobilizers of change’

Four Northeastern graduating law students delivered powerful reflections on Friday at the School of Law commencement, during which they recalled their experiential learning opportunities, the strong bonds they’ve formed with fellow graduates, and the exciting future ahead for the Class of 2014.

Deirdre Foley, L’14, said their law education enabled graduates to view the world in a completely new light, with a legal lens. For example, she said, bike lanes made them think about tort fact patterns and clicking an iTunes update made them think about a variety of legal cases they’ve studied.

Foley noted that while working at her first co-op, a judicial internship at the Juvenile court in Lynn, Massachusetts, she received advice from a court officer—with whom she developed a tight bond—that she carries with her each day: “Keep your head in the books, and with you, no one is above you and no one is below you—so you’re going to do just fine.

“The world is run by systems of laws, and holding a legal degree, we’re impliedly tasked with improving our surroundings: our city community, our global community, and everything in between. This degree wields power, and with that comes responsibility: the duty to serve others, first and foremost,” said Foley, who received her juris doctor.

Courtney Allessio, L'14, gives her address to fellow law graduates at commencement. Photo by Mariah Tauger.

Courtney Allessio, L’14, gives her address to fellow law graduates at commencement. Photo by Mariah Tauger.

The law school’s Class of 2014—comprising more than 240 graduates—performed co-ops throughout the United States and in 16 other countries. Eighty nine percent of graduates did at least one public interest co-op, and public interest co-ops comprised half of all the co-ops performed by law graduates. What’s more, law graduates logged more than 320,000 hours of legal services while at Northeastern.

“It is a wonderful facet of Northeastern’s legal education that we get to dive into our profession and gain real-world experience before entering the real world itself,” Foley said.

Law graduates Courtney Allessio, Jennifer Huer, and Rafaela Serrano, all L’14, joined Foley in delivering the student remarks at commencement. Huer and Serrano reflected on their experiences as part of the second class of Northeastern’s LLM program.

Rafaela Serrano, L'14, gives her address to fellow law graduates at commencement. Photo by Mariah Tauger.

Rafaela Serrano, L’14, gives her address to fellow law graduates at commencement. Photo by Mariah Tauger.

Huer commended her fellow graduates’ for their collective accomplishments and determination, which she noted has strengthened the program for future Huskies.

“To that end, we formed a unique and strong alliance, an alliance that would give rise to an even stronger presence within the halls of our law school,” Huer said. “You see, we were not satisfied with just being students, passively sitting in the classroom; rather, we became active participants in what encourages and drives an institution to flourish. We did exactly what the study of law prepares us for: we observed and identified, we amassed knowledge, and along with our reasoning skills we used that knowledge to empower change.”

For her part, Serrano, a native of Brazil, said she arrived at Northeastern focused only on excelling in the classroom and learning American law en route to her degree. But she emotionally described how she now leaves with an even richer academic experience thanks to the strong bonds she’s formed with her fellow graduates, whose diversity, professionalism, and friendship have motivated them to embark on this journey together and achieve success.

Courtney Allessio called her fellow graduates “the leaders, the motivators, and the mobilizers of change.” She said that when the majority of society says change isn’t possible, or that progress can’t be attained, it is upon today’s graduates to forge ahead and be a beacon of hope and guidance.

“We control our own destiny. We can effectuate change,” she said.

Jennifer Huer, L'14, gives her address to fellow law graduates at commencement. Photo by Mariah Tauger.

Jennifer Huer, L’14, gives her address to fellow law graduates at commencement. Photo by Mariah Tauger.