Welcome Remarks: Gabrielle Johnson, Graduation Committee Co-Chair
Family and friends, faculty and staff and most importantly fellow classmates, it is my pleasure to welcome you to the commencement exercises of Columbia Law School’s class of 2007.
Today is big. It’s easy and tempting to think about graduation from law school as the culmination of an educational career, or the point at which the “real world” has come to call. And it is those things and more. But for me today is a big day for the little girl I was when I was 8 years old. Living in a homeless shelter with no idea what each day was going to have in store, that little girl never would have believed this would be possible. The length of the road from that place seems unimaginable. But here we are. Today.
For many of you, like me, the safer path is to attempt to take this moment in stride. That is what years and years of preparation, coupled with ambition, have taught us. Instead, my plan is to take a step back and be proud, to take a moment, maybe two, to unabashedly celebrate. Because however you got here, whatever pushed you, whoever supported you, you all deserve that. Today.
I am so very proud of all the amazing accomplishments that we have both behind us and in store. I am perhaps prouder still of convincing that little girl I was that sometimes, where you come from is not a hindrance but an invaluable shaping of the person you can one day be. It is the memories of the people who were with me in that shelter and of those who came after that serve as a reminder that not everyone will be as lucky as I have been or have the chances that I have had. So this is their day too.
Every one of you has your own comparable reasons to take pride in your path to this place. It is my hope that you join me in taking a moment to really embrace the uniqueness and value of your journey. And what better time to do that than today?