Federal judge to law grads: ‘Always believe in justice’

Elon Law conferred degrees Saturday on 122 graduates who celebrated the end of their legal education with an online ceremony streamed from Alumni Gym and featuring an address by Chief Judge Roger L. Gregory of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

The chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has observed over the years how the world often asks the wrong questions of young people. Questions like: Is your ticket punched? Do you have the right pedigree? On what side of the tracks were you born?

The question that should instead be asked: “Where are you going?”

The Hon. Roger L. Gregory, the only jurist ever appointed to a federal appellate court by two presidents of different political parties, believes that is more important for the newest graduates of Elon University School of Law to consider as they embark on careers where access to justice remains elusive for countless people.

Chief Judge Roger L. Gregory P’16 of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit delivered the Commencement address to Elon Law’s Class of 2020.

“Always believe in justice. Work hard. Be creative. Be resilient. … Every person is important. Your law practice should make sure that everyone has room at the table,” Gregory said on Saturday in his Commencement address to the Class of 2020. “Be a voice for those who will never get to the table. Those who never had the opportunity to go to law school, or graduate from college, or have the world believe they can do anything. Be a voice for them. Advocate for justice.

“Make sure the world knows that equal justice under law is not just for a few people, but for everyone.”

Yet graduates will not always be assessed correctly, he warned. They’ll be misjudged. Others will think they “may not have what it takes.” The naysayers will be wrong.

Edwina Osaremwindamen Oluwasikemi Avbuere L’20 is hooded by her family.

“You do have what it takes! You’ve been prepared! Not in arrogance, but in the strength of humility,” Gregory said. “Humility means ‘I can learn from everyone. I’m not greater than anybody but I’m not beneath anybody.’”

With a platform party of Elon University and Elon Law leaders masked and seated six feet apart in an empty Alumni Gym, Commencement on December 12, 2020, blended familiar traditions with new ways to recognize graduates while including loved ones in the event. Not a single student was in the hall. For the first time, Elon Law held a virtual ceremony streamed online aimed at promoting the health and wellness of graduates and their families due to the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 global pandemic.

Ben Parsons L’20 is hooded by his daughter.

Many graduates submitted in advance of the ceremony photos and videos that featured parents, spouses, children, siblings, and friends hooding them in their homes or other unique locales. Their submissions were featured in the live stream as well as a video display board in the arena.

Two graduates offered remarks in the program: Kia Barrett, Elon Law’s Student Bar Association outgoing president, welcomed audiences in a prerecorded message from the stage, with Hannah Quinn Lundquist delivering the student address.

“To all the friends and families that are joining us this morning we extend our deepest thank yous, because your patience and understanding during our time at Elon, really made this moment possible for all of us,” Barrett said. “So on behalf of the class of 2020, I want to apologize for all the skipped dinners, missed phone calls and birthdays. And I ask that you continue to bear with us over the next two months as we prepare to take the February bar exam.”

Lundquist shared how “silly” preconceptions of law school and the legal profession were formed by classic movies such as Legally Blonde, The Paper Chase, and My Cousin Vinny. In fact, she said, law school would not “come easy and naturally.” It required her to seek resources and feedback from professors in a way she hadn’t planned.

Hannah Quinn Lundquist L’20 delivered the student address during Commencement for the Class of 2020, which was streamed December 12 from Alumni Gym on Elon University’s main campus.

And she made it.

“We are all ‘sitting’ here today as graduates of law school, something that less than 1% of the population of the United States can say,” Lundquist said. “Now, I don’t know about any of you but that, that is enough for me. … I truly respect and hold in high esteem every single one of my classmates. Not only did we graduate from law school but at the end of the day we did it together!”

In concluding Commencement, Elon University President Connie Ledoux Book charged graduates in the Class of 2020 to use their Elon Law education – one that transformed mind, body, and spirit – to guide their choices. Elon’s honor code, which emphasizes honesty, integrity, responsibility and respect, can help.

“You are now among the most well-educated people in the world,” Book said. “You will face inevitable challenges in your personal and professional lives. I charge you to be resilient and steadfast, like the mighty oaks for which Elon is named. Display your Elon diploma proudly in your homes or offices and stay connected to your new alma mater as Elon alumni—you are lifelong members of the Elon family.

Elon University President Connie Ledoux Book charged graduates in Elon Law’s Class of 2020 with using the tenets of university’s honor code to guide their personal and professional choices.

“Congratulations, and long live Elon!”

Graduates in Elon University School of Law’s Class of 2020

(*** Summa Cum Laude | ** Magna Cum Laude | * Cum Laude)

Kevin Leonel Acuña
B.A., B.A., Appalachian State University

William Shawver Adams*
B.A., University of South Carolina

Jazmine Austin Allen
B.S., Virginia Commonwealth University

Ryan Martin Allshouse
B.S., East Carolina University

Ava Rose Almaraz
B.A., Queens University of Charlotte

Megan Gabrielle Anderson
B.A., Florida State University

Shaun Michael Arnold
B.A., The University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Edwina Osaremwindamen Oluwasikemi Avbuere
B.A., The George Washington University

Kaila Baccas
B.S., Fayetteville State University

Rand Maxwell Baker L’20 with family.

Rand Maxwell Baker
B.S., Ferrum College

Melenni Balbach
B.A., North Carolina State University

Dhruvi Barot
B.A., North Carolina State University

Kia LaShon Barrett
B.A., The University of North Carolina at Greensboro 
M.Ed., The University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Madeline O. Baruch
B.A., University of Central Florida

Megan Bennett
B.A., University of Florida

Samuel Bennett
B.A., Anderson University of South Carolina

Jerrad Evan Bodenschatz
B.A., The University of North Carolina at Wilmington

Elon Law Dean Luke Bierman introduced Chief Judge Roger L. Gregory during Commencement for the Class of 2020 on December 12.

Haillie Ra’Shelle Bowles
B.A., Samford University

Tanner Nathaniel Brantley
B.A., Morehouse College
M.E.L.P., Vermont Law School

Molly Lyle Brazil
B.A., Appalachian State University

Katherine Lynn Brock
B.A., North Carolina State University

Kelley Elizabeth Brosky
B.S., Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania

Melissa Rae Buck
B.A., Elmira College

Sarah Victoria Byrd
B.S., Appalachian State University

Amber L. Cain
B.A., Florida State University M.L.I.S., University of South Florida

Melenni Balbach L’20 with family.

Makayla Caliri
B.A., Westfield State University

Hollyanne Marissa Callahan
B.A., Christopher Newport University

Mackenzie Adair Carpenter
B.S., Clemson University

Hayleigh Roberson Carroll
B.A., Wake Forest University

Brandon Lee Casey
B.A., East Tennessee State University

Julie-Anne Castro
B.A., University of South Carolina

Tai Cierra Simone Chisholm Hensley
B.A., Wake Forest University

Sarah Alexandra Church
B.A., University of South Carolina

Brian Matthew Cindrich
B.A., State University of New York at New Paltz

Christine Elizabeth Cline**
B.A., North Carolina State University

Victoria Charlene Corey
B.A., San Jose State University

Hunter David Cornelius**
B.A., The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Anissa Cottrell
B.S., Longwood University

Tyler Jeremey Crima
B.S., Saint Joseph’s College

Timothy Devin Daugherty
B.S., Hampden-Sydney College

Tyler Demery
B.A, The University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Andrew Ryan Denoff
B.A., Guilford College

Taylor Di Stefano
B.S., West Virginia University

Andrew Phillip Dietrich
B.A., Sewanee: The University of the South

Samantha D. Dudley
B.A., The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Tyler Demery L’20 is hooded by family.

Kjirsten Corinna Durand-Johnson*
B.A., Florida Atlantic University
M.E.L.P., Vermont Law School

Sarah Lowman Ensley
B.S., University of North Georgia

Julia James Eurey
B.S., Asbury University 
M.A., East Carolina University 
Ed.S., Liberty University

Michael John Fiori**
B.A., Clemson University

Victoria Ashley Ford*
B.A., Elon University

Chris Wallace Graham
B.A., Rutgers University

Alexis Janell Grossman
B.A., Georgia Southern University

Emily Lynn Guarascio
B.A., Adelphi University

Madison Nicole Guttry*
B.S., California State University Monterey Bay

Alisha Brianna Harris
B.A., The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Timisha Dominque Henley
B.A., The University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Cynthia Elizabeth Hernandez
B.A., University of Maryland, College Park

Kelby K. Hicks
B.A., North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University

Jack Everett Holbrook
B.A., The University of North Carolina at Wilmington

Mary Melissa Hoover
B.S., Appalachian State University

Rachel Eleanor James
B.A., The University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Kirsten Jantavia Jamison
B.S., University of South Carolina

Victoria Jimenez
B.A., John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Peter Galbraith Kelly III
B.S., Sacred Heart University

Zachary James Kiffmeyer
B.A., The University of Tennessee

Heather M. Kindley
B.A., The University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Julianna Rose Kober*
B.A., University of Rochester

Brooke Taylor LaMachio
B.S., Appalachian State University

Courtney Beckworth Lockerman
B.S., B.A., The University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Michael T. Logsdon II*
B.S., West Virginia Wesleyan College

Hannah Quinn Lundquist
B.S., University of Wisconsin – Stout

Christopher Lambert Martineau
B.A., East Carolina University

Anthony T. Masters
B.S., Appalachian State University

Sarah Elizabeth McIntyre
B.S., Appalachian State University

Vincent McKinney
B.A., Georgia Southern University

In a prerecorded message from the stage in Alumni Gym, Kia Barrett L’20, the former president of the Student Bar Association, welcomed her classmates to the virtual Commencement ceremony.

John Walker McNab
B.S., Brigham Young University – Idaho

Alden Rebecca Minick
B.S.W., University of Georgia

Ty Eric Morley
B.A., University of Nevada, Reno

Jessica Lynn Norum
B.S., Furman University

McCathern Marie Painter
B.A., The College of Charleston

Benjamin Sanders Parsons***
B.A., New York University

Clancy Helen Theresa Phillips
B.A., University of New England

Kairah Pippenger
B.A., B.A., Indiana University – Purdue University Fort Wayne

Rachel Marie Pomeroy
B.A., The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
M.E.L.P., Vermont Law School

Salvatore Popolillo III
B.A., Monmouth University

Travis James Poulos***
B.A., Guilford College

Anna Marie Powell
B.S., Clemson University

Cher Quibang L’20 with family.

Cher Marana Lilles Quibang
B.S., Florida State University

Dillon Michael Quinn
B.S., Lees-McRae College

George Duncan Regan Jr.
B.B.A., Campbell University

Paige Taylor Richardson
B.S., University of Georgia

Shane Bryce Roberts*
B.S., Furman University

Casey Taylor Robinson
B.S., West Chester University of Pennsylvania

Kathryn Joyce Romo**
B.A., Creighton University

Aaliyah Janai Russell
B.S., Virginia Commonwealth University

Jaz Autumn Sarriera
B.S., Fort Hays State University

Connor John Schramm
B.S.B.A., University of Central Florida

Christopher Ryan Schroeder
B.A., University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Olivia Jocelyne Setser
B.A., B.A., B.A., The University of North Carolina at Wilmington 
M.E.L.P., Vermont Law School

Krystal Leanne Shreiner
B.S., Arizona State University West Campus, Glendale

Jacob Wood L’20 with family and lots of confetti.

Simerjit Singh
B.S., Michigan State University

Alexandria Danielle Smith
B.A., The University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Brandon P. Smith
B.S., University of Florida

Christopher Grant Smith
B.S., East Tennessee State University

Evan Smith*
B.S., Western Carolina University

Kristen M. Speight
B.S., Wingate University

Rachel Mae Starnes
B.A., The University of North Carolina at Wilmington

Hannah Whaley L’20 with her family.

Ashley Elizabeth Stewart
B.A., University of Mississippi

Victoria Lynn Stout
B.A.A., Central Michigan University

Spenser Marie Sullivan**
B.A., Arkansas State University

Evan Austin Tarver
B.A., Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

Grant Saxon Tekker
B.A., The University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Almeric Leander Thomas
B.S., Gardner-Webb University
MBA, Keller Graduate School of Management, DeVry University

Daniel H. Walsh*
B.S., Florida State University

Kirbi K. Walters L’20 hooded by family during Commencement.

Kirbi K. Walters
B.A., The College of Charleston

Benjamin Scott Warren
B.A., The University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Hannah Nnenna Whaley
B.S., Lander University

Megan D. Wilson-Bost
B.S., B.S., Emory & Henry College

Hunter B. Winstead**
B.S., Liberty University 
MBA, Liberty University

Robin Still Wintringham
A.B., Duke University

Jacob Willoughby Wood
B.S., The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina

Laura E. Yanka*
B.A., The University of North Carolina at Greensboro