The Appalachian School of Law held its 12th annual commencement April 30 at Riverview Elementary-Middle School, recognizing the 93 members of the Class of 2011.
"Commencement marks an end, but also a beginning" for the graduates, noted Dean Wes Shinn. "You have become students of the law for life" and members of a privileged profession, he said. "We are proud of your achievements and will follow your careers with pride."
The commencement speaker was Paul E. Patton, former governor of Kentucky and current president of Pikeville College. He was introduced by The Honorable Birg Sergent, a retired judge from the 30th Judicial Circuit of Virginia and member of the ASL Board of Trustees.
Patton has excelled in business as a mining industry leader, government as a state politician, and education as a college president, Sergent said. "Maybe some of that success can rub off on us."
Patton compared the gravity of careers in law and government, saying, "The reason you chose the law is to earn a paycheck, but the law is more than a paycheck - it is the foundation of our society." He urged ASL graduates to take the responsibility seriously and commit themselves to making the right choices every time, even when those choices are unpopular. In both careers, "the reward of making a difference in others' lives outweighs the barbs you will receive," he added.
The ceremony's student speaker, an honor that goes to the student who graduates first in his or her class, was Thomas Luke Fleming, a 2003 graduate of Grundy High School. Fleming grew up in nearby Mouthcard, Ky., and has lived in Grundy for the past seven years, interning twice with the Buchanan County Commonwealth Attorney's office. His local roots highlight the fact that "central to ASL's mission is opportunity for the region's residents," Shinn said.
Fleming noted that after supporting and befriending one another over the past few years, the Class of 2011 leaves ASL "not as classmates, but colleagues."
"Regardless of where we came from, hard work has brought us here. We now have the power to change people's lives," he said. "Spending the last three years with you has been an honor and a privilege."
Class of 2007 graduate and ASL Assistant Professor Patrick Baker issued the alumni challenge to the graduates, urging them to reach out to fellow alums for support. He reminded them that because many people don't know about ASL, all new alumni will "become a beacon for the institution," he said. "Represent it with pride." Baker also presented Fleming with the Sutin-Blackwell Award for Excellence for graduating first in his class.
Associate Dean Sandra McGlothlin presented the graduates with their hoods, and Shinn awarded the degrees. Professor Steven Parsons gave the invocation and benediction. Keyboardist Terry Ratliff, flutist Amy Owens, and the Appalachian Highlanders Pipes & Drums provided music. Faculty members instituted a new tradition by formally welcoming all new graduates to the profession with a handshake after the ceremony.
The candidates for the Juris Doctor degree at the ceremony were as follows:
Sheldon Todd Adams, David Samuel Barnette Jr., Tara Ann Bartosiewicz, Robert Dwight Bates II, Michael Brandon Baum, Eugene Belenitsky, Brett Jared Bell, Micah Shawn Blankenship, Matthew Randall Bradley, Anna Elizabeth Bright, Joan Jacqueline Burroughs, Steven Glenn Byers, Michele Lee Caggiano, Daniel Reid Casey, Daniel Watkins Chamberlain, Tenisha Dawn Cline, Jennifer Kay May Crawford, Ryan Spencer Curtis, Lindsey Ann Dennerlein, James Gerad Downey III, Lawrence Eddie Duran, William Hall Estes, Brian O'Shea Finnerty, Thomas Luke Fleming, Jason Daniel Gallagher, Raymond Dale Godfrey, Whitney Morgan Gooch, Jason Lee Grace, Sarah Elizabeth Gray, Timothy Paul Griffin, Joseph Baron Hammons, Michael Keith Hieneman, Amanda Jean Horton, George Pinney Hunt III, Joshua Ross Hurley, Emily Nicole Jernigan, Charles Edwin Johnson, Kelly Nicole Johnson, Vanner Lynn Johnson Jr., Anthony Lewis Jones, Ashley Elizabeth Stewart Kuly, Mark Arthur Lanier, Thad Russell Bryant Lawrence II, Travis Brandon Lee, Daniel Locklear, Angela Dyan Lowe, Justin Jerome Marcum, Ashton Martin McKenzie, Fred Thomas Martin III, Waylon Damon Martin, Richard Holland Matthews, Richard Davis Mattox III, LaTri-c-ea Princess McClendon, Olen McLean, Mary Margaret McNeil, Kristian Richard Lee McPeek, Christopher Robin Menerick, Andrew Dennis Meyer, Garrett Michael Moore Jr., Stanley Thomas Mortensen, William Joseph Mossor, Katheryn Kristina Murray, Jessica Marie Nelson, Zachary Robert Newman, Jason Daniel Nicholas, Robert Olavi Nylander, Timothy Joseph O'Brien, Samantha Jordan Owens, Dino Joseph Pergola, Justin Nicholas Plummer, Margaret Marston Ransone, Rachel Elizabeth Ratliff, Donna Michelle Ridgel, Christopher Ryan Ring, Juliana Katrine Ripperger, David Lee Robinson, Ashley Lauren Rudolph, Brian Scott Scheid, Meghan Elizabeth Scott, Travis Daniel Shields, Nathan David Shultz, Katie Ann Sibley, Stephanie Rosser Skeen, Joshua Paul Sokolowski, Raven Alexis Stanley, Nicole Lee Stiltner, Andrew Preston Taylor, Billy Joseph Taylor, Wesley Keith Taylor, Darya Danielle Thompson, Jeremy Forrest West, Althea Weston, and Roland Bradley Yates Jr.
Top left: Paul E. Patton, former governor of Kentucky and current president of Pikeville College, speaks to graduates. Center right: Thomas Luke Fleming receives his hood from Associate Dean Sandra McGlothlin and Assistant Dean Tommy Sangchompuphen. Bottom right: 93 members of the Class of 2011 were honored at the April 30 ceremony.