MSU Law Honors 2020 Graduates During Awaited Commencement Ceremony

Michigan State University College of Law welcomed members of the Class of 2020 back to campus on the evening of May 13, 2022, to formally recognize the achievement of receiving their law degrees.

Dean Linda Sheryl Greene, who joined the College of Law in June 2021, greeted the dozens of returning graduates and delivered the opening address at their long-anticipated Commencement ceremony.

“You were planning to celebrate when the unthinkable happened. The Coronavirus spread through our planet, changing our lives overnight. Like the rest of the world, with just a few hours’ notice, you were catapulted into a remote work and learning environment. You were in your last semester, mid-March when the world fully grasped the threat,” she said. “We know that you did not have the chance to celebrate your achievement with your colleagues, teachers, family, and friends. You took the bar under tough conditions, too, but you made it, and your talent, your resilience, and your commitment to service is evident in your professional history over the last two years.”

Dean Greene was joined on the platform by MSU Law faculty and staff, as well as keynote speaker Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth T. Clement, the 2020 class officers, Rachel Morin and Victoria Espinoza, class president Emilie DeRemer, and the selected class speaker Tomas Porras-Acosta.

In her speech to the graduates, Justice Clement remarked upon the Class of 2020’s unorthodox entrance into the legal profession, acknowledging how they handled it with grace and a special strength that has led them to this point – finally – two years later.

“Law school is hard enough but then your final months were upended by a pandemic. I cannot imagine how difficult and scary it must have been to finish law school remotely, isolated from your classmates, family, and friends – and then to face the bar exam and job market at the very height of the pandemic – but you persevered and showed the depth of your strength and resilience by becoming lawyers during a pandemic, and you didn’t just survive, you thrived,” Justice Clement said. “You found ways to engage with the world around you and give back. As a collective whole, the Class of 2020 showed by example that good lawyers serve others and that good lawyers not only lead but lead for the benefit of others.”

Professor Catherine Grosso accepted the Faculty Award from the Class of 2020, and she started her acceptance by proclaiming: “I can’t believe you all are here!”

“You all know the ways in which this pandemic knocked us off our orbits in the spring of 2020. Some of you might remember just how tightly packed we were in a third-floor classroom at the exact moment they shut the building down,” Professor Grosso added. “We made it through the last few weeks of the semester because of your good will and because of your willingness to make education happen, however we were going to do it.”

Moses Gomez, former custodial support staff for MSU Law, was recognized with the Staff Award by both the Class of 2020 and 2021, and DeRemer acknowledged his impact as a beloved member of the community.

“When the Class of 2020 officers were considering our Staff Award, the option was absolutely clear from the beginning – it was Moses. If there was one person in this Law College that was the most consistent face, it was Moses. If you ever needed a smile, an uplifting comment, he was there,” DeRemer shared. “Personally, Moses was one of my best memories of the Law College.”

Class Speaker Porras-Acosta surprised his parents at the ceremony by finally revealing his significant role in the program, after two years of keeping the secret from them. He shared his powerful journey to law school as a first-generation student, and he charged his fellow alumni with the mission to pay it forward from today as they continue forth in their careers. Congratulations to the Class of 2020!