Tope Yusuf '08 Graduation Speech
Good afternoon administrators, faculty, staff, friends and families and most importantly the graduating class of 2008. I am honored to be here before you all today. I have been to many graduations before and I learned the key to being a good speaker is to be short and to the point. Hopefully I can do that and give you all something to take with you today.
The past three years have been a wonderful journey. The times that we shared and the people we met have enriched all of our lives. From our first days sitting in legal methods to that last final or paper that we turned in earlier this month, this has been quite a trip. I am thankful for the opportunities I have been granted, the people I have met and those who have helped me along the way.
During our time in law school, we have faced a lot of change in our community and the world. In many ways, lawyers and law students have been at the fore front of these changes. During our first few weeks of school, Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans and much of the north-central Gulf Coast. Over the next three years Columbia Law students volunteered hundreds of hours of legal assistance to those in need. The initiative began at Columbia and we have remained dedicated.
The following year was a critical mid-term election. Many Columbia students dedicated their time to serve as poll monitors at different sites around the country. We helped assure that voters were allowed to exercise their legal right and no one was disenfranchised. Since that time, Columbia students have continued to volunteer even at the primary elections.
These are just two examples of things we have done while we were in law school. I am certain that we can do even more after graduation. As lawyers, we can have a positive impact on the world. Whether it is arguing for an expansion of civil rights before the Supreme Court or structuring microfinancing to assist developing nations, yes we can make a difference.
While we all have different career aspirations, armed with our degrees, we can accomplish anything we want while making the world a better place. I hope that you will keep that in mind throughout your legal careers. We have the tools to make a change, now we just need to use them responsibly.
I am thankful for the service of the faculty and staff at Columbia. Their role as mentors and scholars has truly helped me and my colleagues accomplish our goals in our time here. On behalf of the graduating class, I would like to thank the office of Student Services for taking care of us while we were here and Admissions for letting us in, in the first place. I would also like to thank all the friends and families that are here for each of us today. Your endless support, encouragement and guidance have helped us along the way. Thank you to my brothers for their inspiration and for being my role models. Most importantly I want to thank my mother for encouraging me to dream big, reach for the stars, and always reminding me that giving is more important than receiving, without her love and support my goal of becoming a lawyer could not have come to fruition.
I am grateful that I had the opportunity to meet so many wonderful people in such a short span of time and hope that we continue to grow after we leave CLS. It was an honor and a privilege to serve as your 2007-2008 Student Senate President. Congratulations to the class of 2008. I wish you all the very best.