Published: Oct. 26, 2020 By

Colorado Law's first virtual commencement ceremony on May 8, 2020, honored the accomplishments of graduates in a safe, physically distanced way still abundant with pomp and circumstance.

Dean S. James Anaya recognized the exceptional nature of the ceremony, opening with the sentiment that although "the world is gripped with the rare experience that causes us to separate physically, this gathering of souls through the modern marvel of technology demonstrates that it does not truly separate us."

Graduates crossed the virtual stage with family and friends watching from screens across the country and abroad. Anaya congratulated each student individually, and students were given the opportunity to say a few words. Anaya also delivered personal remarks that he centered around four words: gratitude, love, service, and joy.

Anaya encouraged gratitude toward students' family and friends for their support, and to the Colorado Law faculty and staff, including for their herculean efforts in transitioning to online learning. He also emphasized maintaining connection with one’s roots: "Don’t forget from where you come, because only in that way can you know who you truly are as you walk through life,” he said, quoting his grandmother’s words of wisdom. Exalting love, he noted that "the gratitude among us finds a fitting companion in the bonds of love" as he urged graduates to nurture the bonds developed in law school for years to come.

The members of the Class of 2020 contributed thousands of unpaid, not-for-credit hours in service to the community. Quoting Shawnee Chief Tecumseh, Anaya encouraged the graduating class to "seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people."

Speaking to joy, Anaya concluded that "the pursuit of joy, of happiness, should be central to our lives, along with an ethic of service, the giving of love, and a constant gratitude for those who love us," while reminding the graduating class that they will forever remain a part of the Colorado Law community.

In receiving the Honorary Order of the Coif award, U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse ('09) remarked that, although we live in uncertain times, "our community, our state, and our country have always risen to the occasion to overcome challenges together.” He asked students to consider how they can best use their talents for the greater and public good, trusting each student to serve as a ripple of hope.

In his speech, elected speaker Adrian Untermyer ('20) referred to fellow graduates as "the purveyors of permanent solutions in the era to come." Class President Dana Steiner (’20) introduced Colorado Supreme Court Justice Monica M. Márquez as the keynote speaker.

"Your courage and persistence today matters, not just for you but for all those for whom your journey will light the way," Márquez told graduates. She advised students to "soak up all the wisdom you can from this situation and to let it carry you forward," sharing the “little secret” that falling down is inevitable and “what matters is finding the strength to get up again.”

Márquez offered graduates five pieces of advice: Take good care of yourself, especially at times like these. Build community, and use your talents to contribute to the legal profession here in Colorado. Find mentors. Pay it forward, because “others are going to open doors for you, and you in turn must open doors for others.” Finally, "know that your reputation is everything in this profession," so "be mindful of how you treat others. Be gracious. Every day matters."