Wake Forest Law celebrates first JD/MDiv and JD/MaSus dual degrees, first female SJD degree holder and confers hoods on 200-plus graduates

Photo of Dean Suzanne Reynolds (JD ’77) speaking at the 2017 Hooding Ceremony

The Wake Forest University School of Law conferred hoods on more than 200 graduates on Sunday, May 15, including 184 Juris Doctor degree candidates, 16 international Master of Laws in American Law degree (LLM) candidates, 11 Master of Studies in Law (MSL) candidates and two Scientiae Juridicae Doctors (SJD) candidates. The school conferred hoods on the first two JD/MDiv dual degree graduates, Ashley Escoe of Arnoldsville, Georgia, and Marie Nkonge of Greensboro, North Carolina, and the first JD/MaSUS dual degree graduate, Nicholas Griffin of Fox Island, Washington. In addition, the law school conferred a hood on its first female SJD, Danya Abdulrahman Bin Mahatsin of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

The law school’s 42nd annual hooding speakers, Professor Rebecca Morrow and Nkonge, were chosen by the Class of 2016 as the faculty and student speakers to address the class at Hooding. Professor Morrow was also named by the class as Professor of the Year with Ann Robertson, clinical coordinator for the Litigation Clinic, named as Staff Member of the Year.  

Professor Morrow talked about the Class of 2016′s stunning accomplishments including winning national Moot Court and Trial teams, fulfilling impressive clinic work and earning an American Bar Association award for its pro bono.”I have been so impressed with this class. You are smart, you are good to each other, you are rich in kindness, you are funny and generous and a delight to be around. You have made WFU Law School a better place and we will miss you.”

Nkonge thanked the faculty, staff and administrators of the law school as well as the adjunct professors and Trial Team coaches. “I can confidently say we are prepared because of your personal investment in us. This class has an innate warmth and the legal profession needs legal minds who have compassion and who can give advice. We learned how to think like lawyers from our professors, how to act like lawyers from our trial team coaches and others and we learned from each other the kind of lawyers we want to be.”

You can listen to both speeches at http://livestream.com/wfu/2016law

Dean Suzanne Reynolds (JD ’77) said, “It is a time of abundant joy for your families and your law school family and we join you in celebrating. I know the Class of 2016 is a standup group and you all have been terrific supporters of me.”

Executive Associate Dean Timothy Davis administered the oath and congratulated the class of 2016, which received a standing ovation from family and friends in the audience. “Your legal education has been distinctive,” he said.

Professor Kate Mewhinney conferred the hoods. Following the placing of the hoods, Dean Reynolds recognized the moms, dads and “long-suffering spouses and children,” among others, for their support of the law graduates.

A diploma ceremony will be held in Wait Chapel on Monday, May 16, following Commencement exercises on Hearn Plaza.

The ceremony, which included the bestowing of numerous awards, was followed by the Dean’s Hooding Reception at the Millennium Center in downtown Winston-Salem.

The law school provides free Livestream recordings of the Hooding Ceremony at http://livestream.com/wfu/2016law  and Wake Forest University provides the recording of Commencement at http://livestream.com/wfu/commencement2016.

Graduating with the Magna Cum Laude distinction were: Katherine Yale Barnes; Joshua P. Bussen; Ashley Sarah Escoe; Rudolf Alexander Garcia-Gallont; Elissa Meredith Skarda Hachmeister; Joshua O. Harper; Alexis Marie Iffert; Andrew James Kilpinen; Benjamin F. Leighton; Donald Callaway Morgan; Kaitlin Price; Mackenzie Maxine Salenger; and Ethan Brady Siler.

Graduating with the Cum Laude distinction were: Taylor Michael Barnett; Alana Marie Byrnes; Diana C. Castro; Andres A. Ceberio, Jr.; David J. Darr; Lauren Durr Emery; Taylor Nichole Emerson Ey; Marcus Grant Fields; Steven Michael Franklin; Kayla Mae Frederickson; Jaime Cesar Garcia; Joseph I. Hill; Katye Marie Jobe; Colin Thomas Kennedy; Kelsey Ann Kolb; Madison Anne Morrow; Evelyn A. Norton; Timothy James Readling; John Ira Sanders; Carson Thomas Smith; Eric Thomas Spose; Steven Anthony Verez; and Kelly Anderson Warlich.

The Wake Forest Law has been awarded a chapter of the Order of the Coif, a national membership society, honoring the academic excellence of our program, faculty and students. An Order of the Coif chapter at a law school is akin to a Phi Beta Kappa chapter at a college. Student eligibility for membership in the Order of the Coif is restricted to those in the top 10 percent of a graduating class: Katherine Yale Barnes; Joshua P. Bussen; Lauren Durr Emery; Ashley Sarah Escoe; Steven Michael Franklin; Rudolf Alexander Garcia-Gallont; Elissa Meredith Skarda Hachmeister; Joshua O. Harper; Alexis Marie Iffert; Katye Marie Jobe; Andrew James Kilpinen; Benjamin F. Leighton; Donald Callaway Morgan; Kaitlin Price; Timothy James Readling; Mackenzie Maxine Salenger; John Ira Sanders; and Ethan Brady Siler.

Among the award winners are:

Andria Dayna Marqueze of Miami, Florida, received the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers Award from the North Carolina Chapter.

Madison Kerry Benedict, Heather Marie Higgins, Rudolf Alexander Garcia-Gallont and Donald Callaway Morgan received the American Bar Association Section of Urban, State and Local Government Law Award for the highest grade in the course.

• Diana C. Castro of Westin, Florida, received the American Bar Association and Bloomberg BNA Award for Excellence in the Study of Health Law.

• Colin Thomas Kennedy of Lexington, Kentucky, received the American Bar Association’s Section of Intellectual Property Law and Bloomberg BNA Award for the student who achieves the highest grade among the courses of Intellectual Property, Copyright and Trademarks.

 Alexis Marie Iffert of Effingham, Illinois, received the American Bar Association and Bloomberg BNA Award for Excellence in the Study of Labor and Employment Law, which is given to the students who achieve the highest grade in the course.

Joseph Boyd Greener of Great Falls, Virginia, received the Dean’s Award, which is given to honor the extraordinary contributions of a student leader.

John Ira Sanders of Blackstock, South Carolina, received the E. McGruder Faris Memorial Award, which is given to the student exhibiting the highest standards of character, leadership and scholarship.

Dawnielle Yvett Grace of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, received the Forsyth County Women Attorneys Association Award, which is presented annually to an outstanding female graduate based upon her academic achievements, leadership, service to community, professionalism and commitment to the legal profession.

•  Alena Baker Mosier of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, received the Laura J. Gendy Award, an award that was established by alumni, family and friends of Laura J. Gendy (JD’ 00) to provide an annual cash award to a graduating law student who exemplifies integrity, compassion for others and strength of character that were the hallmarks of Gendy, who died in August 2008.

• Catherine Heller Law, Jordan Crosby Lee, Joshua P. Bussen and Zabrina Barbosa Delgado received the Robert Goldberg Award in Trial Advocacy, which honors the memory of Robert Goldberg, a student at the School of Law, who was killed in World War II. It is an annual cash award given to the students showing the highest aptitude and ethics in trial advocacy.

• Andrew James Kilpinen of Indianapolis, Indiana, received the I. Beverly Lake Award, which was established in honor of I. Beverly Lake Sr., professor of law at Wake Forest University, practicing attorney, assistant attorney general of North Carolina 1951-1955, and retired Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court. An annual cash award is given to the student or students in the law school exhibiting the greatest proficiency in the study of Constitutional Law.

Cristine Rose Dixon of Howell, New Jersey, received the National Association of Women Lawyers Award, which is presented annually to an outstanding law graduate at each American Bar Association-approved law school.

Carson Thomas Smith of Charlotte, North Carolina, received the North Carolina State Bar Student Pro Bono Service Award, which is presented annually to a student who has contributed time and talent to law-related service.

Kelly Jean Austin of Stafford, Virginia, received the Smith Anderson Pro Bono Award for Exceptional Service, which is presented annually to a student who is a Pro Bono Honor Society member, whose pro bono service must have resulted in a demonstrated impact on increasing access to legal information to the under-served population.

Various photos of the Hooding Ceremony and Commencement can be viewed on the law school’s Instagram account and also Flickr.