The Appalachian School of Law held its 13th annual commencement May 5 at Riverview Elementary-Middle School, recognizing the 91 members of the Class of 2012. The new graduates mean ASL now has more than 1,000 alumni.
The ceremony was Dean Wes Shinn's sixth and final commencement as leader of ASL. The graduates, he noted, were becoming "students of the law for life." He also urged graduates to acknowledge the family and friends who encouraged them during their studies, prompting a standing ovation in honor of the audience of supporters.
The commencement speaker was Beverly Perdue, the governor of North Carolina and a Buchanan County native. She was introduced by Associate Dean Sandra McGlothlin, who noted that Perdue grew up in Harman a coal miner's daughter. She started at Grundy High when it was still in the building that now houses ASL and eventually graduated third in her class. She was elected to the North Carolina House in 1986 and became the first female governor of North Carolina in 2009, "shattering the glass ceiling," McGlothlin said.
Perdue encouraged the graduates to take time to think about where their journey has led and where they want it to lead next. "We have very few opportunities to think about our hopes, the people we love, the choices we've made or might have made," she said. "My team calls it a moment of magnified purpose. My hope for you is that you take a few minutes for your personal moment of magnified purpose."
The ceremony's student speaker, an honor that goes to the student who graduates first in his or her class, was Daniel Newby, a native of Johnson City who graduated from East Tennessee State University.
"We made it to the law school finish line," he said. While hurdles such as the bar exam remained, he noted, they didn't reduce the "significance of the achievement" that is finishing law school.
ASL Alumni Association President Suzanne Kerney-Quillen issued the alumni challenge to the graduates, noting that the Class of 2012 meant that ASL now has more than 1,000 alumni , "an incredible milestone." Previous graduates had laid the groundwork for the newest alums' success, she said, "and your success will pave the way for future students of ASL." Kerney-Quillen also presented Newby with the Sutin-Blackwell Award for Excellence for graduating first in his class.
McGlothlin presented the graduates with their hoods, and Shinn awarded the degrees. Professor Stephen P. Parsons gave the invocation and benediction. Pianist Terry Ratliff and the Appalachian Highlanders Pipes & Drums provided music. Faculty members formally welcomed all graduates to the profession with a handshake after the ceremony.
The candidates for the Juris Doctor degree were as follows:
Dominick Angotta, Courtney Armstrong, Claude Barnhill, William Belcher, Joseph Birchfield, Bradley Blanchard, Sarah Brown, James Burdoff III, Richard Burningham, Jeffrey Caudill, Evan Chaffin, Alex Chesnut, Adam Chess, Hansi Chowdhry, Joshua Cohen, Morgan Constantino, James Cook II, John Crotts, Jacob Davidson, Steven Davis, Alexander DerGarabedian, William Divis, Curtis Dotson, Brandie Eaton, Joshua Evans, Jennifer Ferrara, Ryan Frank, James Glover, Brandi Goad, Elisabeth Griffith, Ralph Hagy, Meka Hall, T. Brooke Howard II, Amber Howe, Laura Humphries, Penny Mullins Hunter, Garylene Javier, Jennifer Jones, Robert Josey Jr., David Kasper, Pamela Keeling, Jamie King, Samantha LaRoche, Brandi Lawrence, Nicole Lawson, Brooke Lewis, Bethany Long, Danny Lunsford Jr., Katherine Madon, Jesse Markley, Lance McFadden, Lucille McGee, Kathryn Mooney, Eugena Moulton, Daniel Newby, Patrick Newlun, Edward Nicholson, Brittani O'Brien, Ashley Owen-Cunningham, Elena Patarinski, Ankur Patel, George Payne Jr., Tania Perez Rodriguez, Sean Pinner, Valerie Powell, Bryan Ragland, Noorassa Rahimzadeh, Chloe Richland, John Rogers, Stephen Shepard, Joshua Shrieves, Jonathan Silvester, Charles Simmons, Shelly Smith, Alexandra Smith, John Stacy II, Jason Stegner, Gary Stiltner, Kevin Sullivan, Jessica Taylor, Tracy Taylor, Alexis Thore, Neal Tucker, Carl Eric von Kleist II, Stephen Walters Jr., Erin Waugh, Brian Wenham, Gregory Whitley, Robert Willett, Phoenicia Williams, and Domica Winstead.