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NIU welcomes newest class of lawyers

May 24, 2015
The NIU College of Law conferred 101 degrees at its May 24, 2015 commencement ceremony at Sandburg Auditorium.

The NIU College of Law conferred 101 degrees at its May 23, 2015 commencement ceremony at Sandburg Auditorium.

More than 100 candidates earned juris doctorate degrees from the Northern Illinois College of Law Saturday afternoon in a commencement exercise in the Carl Sandburg Auditorium inside the Holmes Student Center that featured Illinois Lt. Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti.

Dean Jennifer Rosato Perea presided over her final commencement as NIU Law dean and offered a tribute to former law professor Larry Schlam, who passed away in March, calling him a “tireless champion for the underdogs.”

“He did not live long enough to convince us to adopt mandatory pro bono, but I ask you today – in his memory – to pledge to take on one pro bono case in your area of interest in the next two years,” she said. “You will honor him, honor your law school and it’s mission, and most importantly, help somebody that most desperately needs all you can offer him as an NIU grad.”

“To say that I’m humbled and honored would be an understatement,” said Lt. Governor Sanguinetti, noting the hard work and dedication involved in earning a degree. “I’d like to congratulate the entire graduating class today. This is an amazing journey; it is a very long journey.”

Jesse Guth was selected by the class of 2015 to speak on behalf of the students and asked all the candidates to salute all those that supported them on their path to earning a degree as they learned to think like lawyers and make important distinctions between cases.

He said, “Each and every person in this graduating class has seized this opportunity to demonstrate our work ethic and master the art of paying attention to precise details, managing our time, and sharpening our analytical abilities.”

Lt. Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti addresses NIU Law's class of 2015

Lt. Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti addresses NIU Law’s class of 2015

After speeches by the lieutenant governor and Guth, the college recognized the following recipients of academic achievement and excellence awards:

  • David Peskind Memorial Award, Renee Keane
  • Ruddy and King Bankruptcy Prize, Brian Christopher Papo
  • Francis G. Mays Prize, Matthew Thomas Peterson
  • Brian and Tamra McGough Prize, James D. Vanrheeden
  • Brewster Parker Award, David Matthew Smith
  • Hellene and Edward Fioretti Award, Hailey E. Rehberg
  • Paul R. Vella Criminal Law Award, Alexander David Goulart
  • George M. Shur Award, Shaina S. Kalanges
  • Clover Family Award, Amanda Miller
  • Edward F. Diedrich Award, Leanne Beyer
  • Clinical Legal Education Association Award, Alex Van Maren
  • Presidential Commission for the Status of Women Outstanding Women Award:
    • Amanda Beveroth
    • Alyssa Freeman
    • Sarah Hagan
    • Ashley Hinkle
    • Beverly Jones
    • Shaina Kalanges
    • Crystal Malone
    • Sarah Walsh
  • Alumni Council Prize, Hellen Marie Mellas
  • Marla Dickerson Award
    • Beverly Jones (Honorable Mention)
    • Irakere Picon
  • Jesse Guth won three advocacy competitions and served on the SBA board while attending NIU

    Jesse Guth won three advocacy competitions and served on the SBA board while attending NIU

    Outstanding Contribution to Appellate Advocacy Programs

    • Jane Hanson (Honorable Mention)
    • Stephen Joseph Hegedus
  • Outstanding Contribution to Trial Advocacy Programs
    • Alexis V. Aranda
    • Niklas E. Lofgren
  • Outstanding Contribution to a Scholarly Publication, Sarah Elizabeth Hagan
  • Thurgood Marshall Award
    • Crystal Malone (Honorable Mention)
    • Marishonta Wilkerson
  • Outstanding Contributions to the College of Law Community, Alyssa Freeman
  • Award for Academic Excellence, Matthew Thomas Peterson

Dean Rosato Perea concluded the ceremony with the following Irish blessing: “May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind be ever at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face and the rain fall softly on your fields. Until we see each other again—which I hope will be soon—be well.”