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Senior Day May 2014
Senior Day Messages Encourage Grads to Embrace Change, Be Authentic

By Jenny Whalen
May 14, 2014

"Be humble. Take chances. Be a team player. Maintain your integrity. And above all else, be real. Be you." With those words, graduates of the University of Michigan Law School's Class of 2014 joined the likes of American presidents in receiving the expert counsel of Kathryn Ruemmler.

The longest-serving counsel of Barack Obama's presidency, Ruemmler delivered the Law School's Senior Day address May 10, offering Michigan's graduating JDs, LLMs, and SJDs advice gleaned from her own extraordinary career.

(View an image gallery of Senior Day celebrations.)

"Don't worry about what other people think," Ruemmler advised the audience in Hill Auditorium. "I know you are skeptical of this idea, but in my experience if you just allow yourself to be you—your authentic self—and follow your own path rather than comparing your path to that of others, success—success for you—will come."

And in striving for this "blissful authenticity," Ruemmler urged graduates to not only accept change but also embrace it—a sentiment Dean Mark D. West shared in his own address.

"Our graduates change the world," West said. "You went to Michigan. Your experience at Michigan Law gives you a greater ability to change than most people. You will not be the same lawyer in 10, 20, or 40 years as you are today. As a Michigan-trained lawyer, you will adapt to new issues, new clients, and areas of the law that don't yet exist. Michigan Law has changed you."

The awesome impact of this community on its members is one that Betsy Fisher and Danish Sheikh know well. The respective representatives of the JD and LLM classes, Fisher and Sheikh spoke of their classmates' boundless support, empathy, and ever-creative use of the law open listserv.

(Watch the full Senior Day ceremony.)

"People in this community are willing to go out of their way to help one another," Fisher said, using the law open listserv as a prime example. From the sale of football tickets and textbooks to exam advice and event invitations, this email group "encapsulates the qualities and quirks of the Law School community" and leaves little doubt as to the generosity and compassion of its members, she said.

"We came from vastly different countries and now many of us are going back but we take with us little invisible links, little chains of affinity that we have created here," added Sheikh, a native of India. "We take them back to the places where we came from and these little chains of affinity radiate out from Ann Arbor and span across this big world that is suddenly less huge."

But should the distance ever grow too great, West bid the Class of 2014 to remember this simple truth, "Michigan Law is your home. You will always have a home here."

Congratulations, Class of 2014. Don't stay away too long.

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