Journalism / New Haven Register

Quinnipiac grads get to honor moms

By Rachael Scarborough King, Register Staff
May 12, 2008

HAMDEN — Graduates and speakers honored their mothers Sunday as the members of Quinnipiac University’s professional schools celebrated commencement.

Hundreds of students from Quinnipiac University’s School of Law, Graduate Programs and College of Professional Studies walked across the stage in Quinnipiac’s main quad Sunday.

As speakers at the two ceremonies — a morning one for the graduate schools and Professional Studies, and Law in the afternoon — honored the students, they also asked them to remember the family and friends who have supported them in earning their degrees.

“Let me congratulate all family members and friends and wish all mothers a very happy Mother’s Day,” New Haven businessman Carlton Highsmith said to the graduate students, according to prepared remarks. “You should be very proud of what you have contributed to the accomplishments of our graduates.”

Connecticut Supreme Court Justice Barry R. Schaller served as commencement speaker for the School of Law. Schaller mixed quotations from Martin Luther King Jr., William Faulkner and Jon Stewart as he encouraged the budding lawyers to pursue justice in the course of their careers.

“As lawyers, with access to knowledge and authority, it is vital that you devote yourself in good measure to those who need it most,” he said. “Justice demands that our legal system be open and accessible, not just to those who are able to afford it, but to all those who have vital interests at stake.”

Speakers at the afternoon ceremony urged graduates to push themselves professionally but make sure to maintain a balance between work and their friends and family.

“You will be faced with integrating your professional life with your personal life,” Schaller said. “Your professional success will be less fulfilling if you do not attend to your personal integrity and happiness.”

Quinnipiac President John Lahey praised the achievements of the class of 2008.

“The law school, like any other school, will be judged best by its graduates and so, members of the class of 2008, we are dependent on you to make the best use possible of the skills you have learned at the Quinnipiac University School of Law.”

Schaller and Pietrina Sappern, a retired clerk in the Superior Court Judicial District of New Haven, received honorary juris doctor degrees during the School of Law commencement. In honor of her husband, Sappern established the Yale Sappern Memorial Fund, which supports Quinnipiac law students working on family law in New Haven Superior Court.

Graduate Adam Swanson delivered the student address.

For the Graduate Programs and College of Professional Studies commencement, speaker Highsmith also received an honorary degree.

After the School of Law ceremony, graduates Susan McMillin and Heather Branca said they are excited to have complete their studies, but will miss many professors and fellow students.

“It’s wonderful — it’s done!” Branca said.

“I think they gave a lot of thought to the talks,” McMillin said of the ceremony. “It wasn’t something they would say every year – they’re really personalized it for the class.”

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