'Carry on Elon's tradition of service'

Elon University School of Law conferred 102 degrees in a Commencement ceremony that featured an address by North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein, who reminded graduates of their duty to seek justice and to protect the rule of law in troubling times.

North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein
PHOTO GALLERY: Commencement for Elon Law’s Class of 2018

There are many noble careers that benefit the public, and North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein is quick to list them. Teachers shape minds. Artists express the human spirit. Entrepreneurs create wealth and strengthen the economy.

But only one profession requires its members to swear to defend the Constitution of the United States: Attorneys, who are officers of the court, “whose duty it is to seek justice and to protect the rule of law.”

“You will have a special duty to stand up when the Constitution – and the democratic norms and institutions that give it meaning – are undermined or threatened,” Stein said in a Commencement address to Elon Law’s Class of 2018. “Fortunately, Elon Law has prepared you to be a lawyer-leader since your first day.”

The completed preparation to serve as lawyer-leaders served as the theme of a Dec. 15 ceremony where 102 degrees were conferred on the 11th class to graduate from Elon Law, and only the second to complete its new 2.5-year, highly experiential curriculum. More than 1,000 guests filled Alumni Gym for the late-morning program.

Stein noted the polarized culture in which Americans currently find themselves. He also called attention to attempts by some politicians to undermine the judicial branch of government because they are unhappy with the outcomes of certain cases. That is a major problem.

“An independent judiciary protects our individual liberties by checking an overreaching executive or a power-hungry legislature,” Stein said. “An independent judiciary defends the First Amendment to ensure that we are a more well-informed public. An independent judiciary ensures that every eligible American has the ability to cast his or her vote. An independent judiciary protects us.

“But whose job is it to protect the judiciary? Lawyers, for one.”

The Class of 2018 should continue the traditions that preceding classes have established, Stein said.

“After your 2.5 years here at Elon — y’all are a bunch of over-achievers! — you are now armed with the enviable skills of critical thinking, persuasion, and work ethic,” Stein said. “And we are relying on you to use these skills to carry on Elon’s tradition of service.”

Stein has focused his life’s work on protecting families from crime and consumer fraud. His priorities include combating the opioid crisis and taking on scam artists who target seniors.

Prior to his election as attorney general, Stein served as a state senator and as a senior deputy attorney general in the North Carolina Department of Justice. In the State Senate, Stein led efforts to put more violent criminals behind bars and keep innocent people out of prison by expanding the state’s DNA database, and he worked to strengthen laws against domestic abuse and to ban stalking using GPS tracking devices.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association and the AARP of North Carolina each named Stein “Legislator of the Year” during his time in the General Assembly. He also was named the 2011 Defender of Justice by the NC Justice Center, and his Republican and Democratic colleagues selected Stein as the most effective Democratic senator.

While serving as senior deputy attorney general, Stein helped write the School Safety Act, which mandated safety plans and training for school personnel in emergency situations, and he worked to improve safety features on social media websites to protect children from sexual predators. Stein also helped run the payday lenders charging loan shark interest rates on working families out of the state.

Stein is a graduate of Dartmouth College and earned law and public policy degrees from Harvard University.

“Josh Stein is known not just in North Carolina as our 50th attorney general but across the country for his unyielding advocacy across partisan divides to improve the lives of every person,” Elon Law Dean Luke Bierman said in his introduction of the speaker. “His notable accomplishments emanate from the fact that he does not see Republicans or Democrats, nor red or blue. He sees people in need who require help.”

Commencement also featured remarks by two graduates – Darrell Alexander Jr., who recently concluded his tenure as president of the Student Bar Association and welcomed everyone at the start of the program, and Grace Lay, who was chosen by her peers to deliver the student address.

Alexander instructed his classmates to continue to be smart, plan accordingly, be diligent in everything they do, and keep a strong work ethic. “The difference between goals and achievements,” he said, “are discipline and consistency.”

And Lay challenged the class to stay connected as a family “here for one another, to support and uplift each other” as graduates leave Elon Law for new homes near and far.

“No matter what your next path may be, the next chapter to be written, I only ask you help someone,” said Lay, recipient of Elon Law’s 2018 Distinguished Service Award. “Imagine if each of us helped just one person. That would be (many) lives impacted. Let’s use our education and experience to leave the world in a better place than we found it.”

In closing the ceremony, Elon University President Connie Book, presiding over her first Elon Law Commencement, charged graduates with living lives that adhere to the Elon University Honor Code of honesty, integrity, responsibility and respect.

“As you began this new chapter in your own lives, I want to remind you that you will never truly leave Elon,” Book said. “Your future, and the future of Elon, are forever connected, and I hope that you will think of yourselves as full partners in shaping the future of the School of Law and this outstanding university. …

“You now stand among the most well-educated people on the planet. I’m confident that you will harness your newly acquired knowledge and leadership in the pursuit of justice for all people.”

Elon Law graduates in the Class of 2018

Rachel Omolara Adekanye
B.A., University of Maryland College Park

Edem Amable Ahiale
B.A., University of Ghana

Darrell Anthony Alexander Jr.
B.A., University of Florida

Rebecca Marie Anderson
B.A., The University of North Carolina at Wilmington
M.E.L.P., Vermont Law School

Nicholas M. Arsenault
B.S., Salem State University

James Raymond William Bales
B.A., University of Cincinnati

Timaura Evadney Barfield
B.A., High Point University
Paralegal Certificate, Georgetown University

Jeremy J. Boissy
B.A., State University of New York at Plattsburgh

Katherine E. Bordwine
B.A., Emory & Henry College

Daniel Alan Branon
B.S., Montreat College

Marcus Blake Brinkley
B.A., North Carolina State University

Julia Michelle Brown
B.A., West Virginia University

Catherine Claire Bryant
B.A., Meredith College

Ashley Louise Campbell
B.S., East Carolina University

McKenzie M L Canty
B.S., B.S., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Alasdair Theophilus Cho
B.A., East Carolina University

Tarra K. Collins
B.S., Fayetteville State University

Nicole DeBartolo
B.S., Appalachian State University

Anthony Stephen DeLucia
B.A., University at Buffalo

Alexander Gray Doernberg
B.A., High Point University

Elizabeth Ashley Downer
B.A., Appalachian State University

Charles J. Draeger
B.S., B.A., Western Carolina University

Adam Richard Etzel
B.S.B.A, Robert Morris University

Micaela Christianna Evans
B.A., University of Mississippi

Celsey  Alexandra Fannin
B.A., Transylvania University

Austin Craig Foster
B.S., Barton College

Lauren Elizabeth Franklin
B.S., The University of North Carolina at Wilmington

Alexandra Noelle Gallagher
B.S.,  Wingate University

Areion Ijionea Gamble
B.S., The University of West Georgia

Gia Michele Gaster
B.A., Guilford College

Seth Gerringer
B.A., Wake Forest University

Christopher P. Gillespie
B.S., Southern Illinois University Edwardsville

Ryan N. Gobble
B.A., The University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Courtney Paige Grigsby
B.A., The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
M.E.L.P., Vermont Law School

Danielle Brittany Hardy
B.S., St. John’s University

Morgan Ann Harvey
B.B.A., Roanoke College

Christian Patrick Haverstrom
B.A., The University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Jordan Lee Hensley
B.A., College of Charleston

Ashley Celine Henson
B.A., The University of North Carolina at Wilmington

Tia Janeé Hudgins
B.S., Queens University of Charlotte

Sarah Frances Johnson
B.A., Mars Hill University

Bridget Lynn Jolly
B.A., B.S., The University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Charles Bowen Jones II
B.S.B.A., East Carolina University
M.B.A., M.S., East Carolina University

Arlind Kastrati
B.S., B.A., North Carolina State University

Laura Grace Kays
B.A., The University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Maryam Safia Khan
B.A., American University

Rebecca Elizabeth Kilmon
B.S., University of Delaware

Elizabeth Diann Koeman
B.S., Clemson University

Olivia Cherí Lambert-Tucker
B.S., North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University

Asia Willette Lance
B.S., University of South Carolina

John Tilman Lanier
B.S., Campbell University

Grace Elizabeth Lay
B.A., Clemson University

Shianne Necole LeGrand
B.A., Pfeiffer University

Blake Wesley Long
B.A., North Carolina State University

Jared A. Lumley
B.A., Flagler College

Kelcee Lynn Mader
B.S., George Mason University

Robert Thomas Martin
B.A., Appalachian State University
M. Div., Wake Forest University

Lauren Taylor Mason
B.B.A., Roanoke College

Olivia Ann Matte
B.A., Buffalo State College

Daniel Bradford McCain
B.B.A., University of Notre Dame

Ericka R. McDaniel
B.A., The Art Institute of Raleigh-Durham

Daniel Mendez
B.S., Appalachian State University

Haley N. Mendola
B.A., Seton Hill University

William David Miller
B.A., Campbell University

Endri Mince
B.A., University of South Carolina – Columbia

Mariah E. Murray
B.S., Mansfield University of Pennsylvania

Benjamin Hines Newbern
B.S., College of Charleston

Valery Ortiz Caicedo
B.S., Wingate University

Markietta Ciera Owens
B.A., South Carolina State University

Jonathan Michael Parisi
B.S., Western Carolina University

Jesse Aaron Peterson
B.A., The University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Stephanie Del Real Peterson
B.A., The University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Jeffrey Lynn Porter Jr.
B.A., The University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Tracy Tamaeka Preville
B.A., John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Sarah Catherine Price
B.A., The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Caroline Powell Ray
B.A., Campbell University

Elizabeth Anne Ray
B.S., James Madison University

Morgan D. Ricci
B.A., The University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Matthew Sherwood Roller
B.A., University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Bradley B. Rooney
B.A., Appalachian State University

Ziaedeen Ehson Saadat
B.A., Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Charles Isaiah Sexton
B.A., University of Georgia

Lauren Alexandria Simms
B.A., Elon University

Melissa K. Sumner
B.A., Guilford College

Alexis Sylvester
B.S., Longwood University

Madison Van Alexander Thornton
B.A., University of Tennessee

Alishia Frederina Tidwell
B.S., Towson University

Chelsea Devon Townsend
B.A., The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Sarah Allison Trombley
B.S., Western Carolina University

Helen Margarita Tsiolkas
B.A., The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Joseph Turner
B.S., The University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Walter Craddock Tuttle
B.S., North Carolina State University

Alexandra Kalyn Viele
B.A., College of Charleston

Caroline Ray Waugh
B.A., University of South Carolina

Lauren Nichole Weeks
B.A., The University of North Carolina at Pembroke

Theodore West
B.A., Hampden Sydney College

David Lee Wheaton Jr.
B.A., Guilford College

Benton Ricks Whitaker
B.A., The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Randy Chase Whitehead
B.S., East Carolina University

Kendell Rashawn Williams
B.A., The University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Richard Scott Williams
B.A., Campbell University

Matthew Dylan Wolf
B.S., Florida State University

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