Convocation Review: University of Arizona Law Class of 2023

May 17, 2023

University of Arizona Law 2023 graduates gathered at Centennial Hall for convocation on Saturday, May 13, 2023. Dean Marc Miller welcomed graduates from the Juris Doctor (JD), Master of Laws (LLM), Master in Policy Studies (MPS), Master in Legal Studies (MLS), Graduate Certificates and Doctor of Juridical Science (SJD) programs, along with their family and friends in attendance.  

Miller opened the ceremony by telling graduates they are re-shaping what it means to be an active citizen, both with their legal training and experiences gained during their time in law school.  

“You have learned to work, and think, and have multi-dimensional lives even when life seemed to shrink to the size of a Zoom screen. That ability to adapt quickly and thrive will be valuable over the course of your life,” said Miller. “You have learned to live with ambiguity. With risk and uncertainty. With losses and sorrow. You remained standing. You have extended compassion and care to those around you – and, as well, you learned about the importance of self-care.”    

He shared that though these past few years there has been much cause for concern, there is also much cause for hope. 

“We know challenging times persist. And your legal education qualifies you – in a very exceptional and rare way – to step up to these challenges. That you are among those who will meet this moment is cause for great hope.”   

He asked graduates to always insist on the truth, demand the ends of justice and to stay engaged, by showing up for their families, friends, colleagues, and communities.  

Eric Button (‘01), Law College Association President (LCA) followed by encouraging graduates to stay involved and to every so often take a moment to mentally step back and be proud of their hard work, grateful for opportunities they have worked for, and ponder what they can do to stay inspired.   
Outgoing Student Bar Association President Sarah Gerstel presented the class gift of new regalia for future graduating classes.  

“Most of us were able to borrow this regalia for free thanks to the Class of 2013’s Class Gift. But there weren’t enough for all of us, and we lose some to wear and tear every year. So, our class gift is purchasing more regalia, to ensure that graduation stays accessible to everyone,” said Gerstel. 


Elected student speakers Kimberly Atieno Otieno (LLM), Jennifer Chambers (MLS), Jacob Marsh (JD), and Jeneva R. Kame Parks (JD) reflected on their time at University of Arizona Law. They shared their experiences while also speaking about resilience, gratitude, service, and continued work to uplift humanity. 

“Whatever your struggle is—whether it’s against the state or against union-busting companies, whether it’s ending carceral punishment or ending the criminalization of land and water protectors—I hope, and I know, that you have the strength to continue to dream new worlds,” said Parks. “Arizona Law dropped me into a community of people fighting back. The responsibility we shoulder is both great and seemingly inconsequential, short- and long-term, defying any describable unit of measure or time. It’s about carrying on the work of generations past and building something for the future, the finished product of which we’ll likely never see.” 

Judge Roopali H. Desai (JD ‘05, MPH ‘01, BA ‘00) of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit delivered the keynote address and provided advice to graduates for moments when they will feel varying degrees of disorientation and doubt throughout their legal careers. Desai encouraged them to have “-ships” for success: mentorships, allyships, and sponsorships – and to be one of these for someone else throughout their careers. Second, to work towards something bigger than oneself.  

“To think about the problem that needs to be solved as not just your problem, but a problem that requires a bigger, broader, and bolder solution can help you move past the moment of panic, and also serve those around you,” said Desai.  

Finally, she advised grads to stay true to their values and give back to their communities, regardless of their career paths. 

“Whether you work in the private sector or the public sector. As graduates of this law school, you have a responsibility to uphold justice and fairness, to protect the vulnerable, and to use your power for good,” said Desai. “And this obligation exists regardless of your job title.”  

Dean Miller recognized Professor Robert H. Mundheim, who after a unanimous faculty vote, received an Honorary Doctor of Laws. Mundheim was presented with the award at the University of Arizona’s main campus commencement. 

Dean Miller then presented Judith Leonard and James S. Rogers (‘72) with the 2023 LCA Award for their commitment to University of Arizona Law and outstanding achievements. Desiree Reed-Francois (‘97) received the University of Arizona Alumni Association’s (UAAA) Personal Achievement Award for her notable athletics administration career. Melanie Fontes Rainer (‘10) was recognized with the UAAA Distinguished Citizen Award for her work toward improving the lives of women and families.

View more photos from 2023 Convocation