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Picking up the mantle of public service, former Newark (N.J.) Councilman Cory Booker, awarded an Honorary Fellowship at the ceremony, inspired students to reach out to the less fortunate, as he has done. While in law school, he said, he represented a poor and frail elderly woman who faced eviction from her apartment.
After considerable discussion, he recounted, the woman decided to fight the order because she thought it might help others if she won the case. Booker researched the case day and night but, sadly, it never got to court – she died of a heart attack before the hearing was held.
Using this story as a spark to ignite his call to public service, Booker beseeched the graduates to follow his example and use their educations to make a difference in the world. “Don’t be one of those people who is born an original and dies a copy,” Booker said.
Those words rang true to Class President Diana Spagnuolo. “We mustn’t convince ourselves that someone else will do the pro bono work,” Spagnuolo said. “Indifference is the worst offense of all.”
Spagnuolo said the 19,000 hours of public service performed by the graduating class over the last three years is a laudable precedent for students to build on in their careers. “Let this history influence our future … Continue on this path of service and weave the ideals of tolerance, compassion, and ethics into the futures that await us.”