MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic prevented the West Virginia University College of Law Class of 2021 from having a traditional Commencement ceremony. Still, each member of the graduating class is being honored on the law school’s website.
This virtual celebration includes photos of the graduates and recognition of their accomplishments. Students also submitted personal photos, favorite law school memories, their inspiration for becoming a lawyer and messages of thanks to those who helped them along the way.
Interim Dean John Taylor, who was selected Professor of the Year by the Class of 2021, delivered his traditional commencement address in a video that is posted online. In his remarks, Taylor discussed the “value of embracing risk” and the opportunities that come with taking chances. Risk-taking, he said, is an admirable trait that often comes with great rewards. Discomfort, he said, comes with growth.
“I’ve always admired people who do not back away from fear, who do not back away from risk, who are not afraid to fail,” he said. “People who see only possibilities where others see only limitations… Trying things that make you uncomfortable or trying things that are new where you know that you might fail – these are difficult things to do.”
Other video messages celebrating the Class of 2021 feature WVU Law faculty and staff and leaders of the West Virginia State Bar and the West Virginia Judicial and Lawyer Assistance Program.
“Know that wherever you decide to practice, you will have friends in West Virginia. Not only will you have your classmates, and your professors…but know that there are many others, many of whom you have yet to meet, who have an interest in your future and wish you the best,” said Anita Casey, Executive Director of the West Virginia State Bar. “I hope you will consider the West Virginia State Bar and its members as those friends you can rely upon.”
WVU Law Classes of 2020 and 2021 were honored at a hybrid Commencement ceremony at Milan Puskar Stadium on May 16, alongside graduates from the schools of Public Health, Nursing, Dentistry, Medicine and Pharmacy.
WVU president E. Gordon Gee and WVU Health Sciences vice president Dr. Clay Marsh delivered Commencement messages, and Dr. Patrice Harris provided the keynote speech. Harris, a three-time WVU graduate, is the first African American woman to be president of the American Medical Association.
During Commencement, 1981 WVU Law graduate Elliot G. Hicks was presented with the Justitia Officium Award for outstanding contributions and service to the legal profession. West Virginia Governor Jim Justice also shared a video message during the ceremony commending the graduates on their ability to adapt and face the challenges of a new journey.