In a speech that included references to the late Robert F. Kennedy and John Rosenberg, founder of the Appalachian Research and Defense Fund of Kentucky, Bastress urged the Class of 2013 to find ways to nurture their compassion while thriving as lawyers.
“It’s okay to care,” he told the graduates. “Law is a helping profession. We don’t all have the wherewithal of a Kennedy or the chance to lead movements, but we do get to serve and to demonstrate that we care – whether we are serving a client, the public, a constituency, an ideal, or some other noble purpose.”
Class president Jonathan Storage congratulated his fellow students on their achievement.
“During our first year, our forward-thinking Dean broke ground on a great undertaking to expand and modernize our school,” he said. “Like our school’s physical transformation, we, too, have undergone a deep and fundamental transformation – one that has prepared us for our futures.”
Attorneys Brewer and Jackson received the Justitia Officium Award, the College’s highest honor, from Joyce McConnell, the William J. Maier, Jr. Dean and Thomas R. Goodwin Professor of Law. The award was established in 1978 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the College of Law.
A Fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers, Brewer has been the Chief Executive Officer of Steptoe & Johnson PLLC since 2009. Since joining the firm in 1980, she has focused her practice in the area of litigation, with a concentration on professional liability defense. She serves on the Board of Directors of the West Virginia University Foundation and is a member of the West Virginia Roundtable.
Jackson is a Fellow of the West Virginia Bar Foundation and a former state senator. He serves on the West Virginia Board of Education and as a Trustee for the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation. For the past 20 years, he has helped lead his family’s natural gas production company.
When she conferred the Doctor of Jurisprudence degree on the Class of 2013, WVU Provost Michele Wheatly said, “Yours is a field of great and unique significance in our democratic society. To you will fall the imperative of maintaining the societal order and stability that the law represents, while at the same time safeguarding the opportunity for constructive growth and change without which a free society cannot exist.”
Andrew Richardson, a 1982 College of Law graduate and Senior Vice President of Wells Fargo Disability Management in Charleston, W.Va., reminded the Class of 2013 that they were part of a legacy of achievement dating back almost 150 years.
“Over that time, WVU graduates have succeeded in almost every field of human endeavor,” he said. “WVU has given you the tools to succeed, but you must each find your own path to success.”
Following the Commencement ceremony, the newly minted alumni, their friends and family, and the faculty and staff attended a celebration reception at the College of Law.