Law School hosts virtual celebration of Class of 2020

May 13, 2020 - Kenn Rodriguez

UNM Celebration-Class of 2020 final screen shot

Saturday May 9 was a particularly singular day for the UNM School of Law, which observed a virtual Celebration of the Class of 2020. The first of its kind, the festivity was hosted online on the Law School’s YouTube channel.

All told 130 honorees were honored, including the first full cohort to complete the Master of Studies in Law program. The MSL program cohort, which began its studies in 2017, included nine honorees.

UNM School of Law Dean Sergio Pareja said Saturday’s event was “not intended to be a virtual graduation,” and said the Law School is planning a live graduation for the Class of 2020 when that is possible. He also emphasized the importance of marking the occasion.

UNM Celebration-Class of 2020 Gov screen shot

“We wanted to celebrate the achievements of our graduating 3Ls (third-year law students),” he said. “My preference is to celebrate in person, but having been through this process, I noticed certain things better in the online format than in person. The biggest thing was that students got to say something in a way that they don’t get to do in live graduations. In a virtual ceremony, every person called by name was invited to turn on their camera and microphone and we got to see them up close and personal. This proved to be, I think, a meaningful substitute.”

The celebration was kicked off by a video featuring several prominent School of Law graduates, including current New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham (Class of 1987) and U.S. Congresswomen Deb Haaland (Class of 2006) and Xochitl Torres Small (Class of 2018), and New Mexico Chief Justice Judith Nakamura (Class of 1989) and N.M. State Auditor Brian Colón (Class of 2001) as well as several UNM Law School Alumni Board members.

UNM Celebration-Class of 2020 Pareja screen shot

UNM School of Law School professor Jenny Moore, who joined the Law School faculty in 1995 and currently teaches courses in Human Rights, Immigration Law and International Law, said the ceremony was similar to past law school graduation ceremonies in that it was “so personal.”

“It was such a celebration of our graduates and their gifts and the challenges of the world, which are especially notable now but have always existed for all of us in New Mexico,” she said. “So that’s the continuity I see, is that community and support and celebration of our graduates. And service.”

Student honoree Sheilah Jennings agreed, saying, “While I had envisioned this weekend to be very different, the community support and love shown through our virtual celebrations still made it very special. “I’m so grateful to our (School of Law) community for going the extra mile.”

Fellow honoree Lionel Betsch also praised the celebration. “Under trying circumstances, the Class of 2020 and UNM School of Law both displayed the qualities that make us special: positivity, community, appreciation, and making the best of circumstances with de minimis excuses,” he said.

Saturday’s UNM School of Law’s Celebration of the Class of 2020 video was produced using Zoom, and can be found on YouTube.