Covered in gray, purple and red regalia, the combined J.D. and LL.M class of 2013 sat together at a bitter-sweet graduation celebration on Friday, May 17. After being welcomed by Dean Tom Campbell, the sizable graduating class (221 grads!) heard inspiring speeches from The Honorable Diarmuid O’Scannlain of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and classmates Damon Pitt (J.D. ’13) and Munira Akhunzada (LL.M. ’13).

Judge O’Scannlain gave the opening address. His speech provided insights into lawyers in America and referenced Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America. He also congratulated the Class of 2013 for their hard work in reaching this pivotal moment in their lives. “Be proud of what you have done.”

Damon Pitt (J.D. ’13) also spoke at graduation. He was selected by his fellow J.D. graduates to address the class and it was no surprise as to why Damon was chosen. In his typically brilliant manner, Damon’s speech compared law school to childhood with graduation being the entrance into adulthood. For comedic relief, Damon mimicked Professor Mario Mainero’s new favorite catchphrase, “You’re mine this summer. ” Professor Mainero runs the Bar Prep program at Chapman Law, so graduates will be back at school studying for the Bar until July.

The LL.M. students chose Munira Akhunzada, a native of Afghanistan, as the LL.M. student speaker. Munira’s background and speech were so moving that local NPR affiliate KPCC 89.3 FM ran a story about it. Her message was simple yet packed with wisdom. “The person who goes furthest is generally the one who is willing to do and dare,” she said. “This is the challenge that lies before us.”

Towards the end of the ceremony, recent graduate and 2012-2013 Student Bar Association President Stephanie Morris announced that Professor Mario Mainero was the students’ choice for the Katherine M. Baird Darmer “Outstanding Professor of the Year” award. Each year, students select the professor they feel went above and beyond the call of the duty. The award is named after the late Professor Katherine M. Baird Darmer, whose hard work and dedication to her students will never be forgotten. Last year, the Class of 2012 bestowed the honor on Professor Frank J. Doti.

“It was a great honor and a wonderful surprise to have been named Professor of the Year,” said Professor Mainero. “I am truly humbled by the announcement and I am looking forward to working with the Class of 2013 to help them achieve great success on the July 2013 Bar Exam.”