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Orlando, Fla. – Some had worked in the business sector for years; many were fresh out of their undergraduate studies; and still others served in various branches of the military. There was a former Miss Florida, several college athletes, and even a recent contestant on the Wheel of Fortune game show. Now they all have an opportunity to add J.D or Esquire to their titles.
Before nearly 2,000 family members and guests, the Florida A&M University (FAMU) College of Law's Hooding Class of 2012 took an additional step toward fulfilling aspirations three to four years in the making. The Eighth Annual Hooding Ceremony took place at the Hilton Orlando, 6001 Destination Parkway, on Saturday, May 12, 2012, where more than 150 candidates received the doctoral hood for the Juris Doctor degree.
The FAMU College of Law Hooding Ceremony recognized graduates and candidates from the fall 2011, spring 2012 and summer 2012 classes. Candidates for spring 2012 had their juris doctor degrees conferred two-weeks prior in Tallahassee, Fla. at the University's Commencement Exercises on April 28, 2012. Many fall 2011 graduates who participated in the Hooding Ceremony had already taken and passed the February Florida Bar Exam, or Bar Exams in other states.
Jenny Liabenow, an officer of the Unites States Air Force, was recognized as the 2012 Valedictorian, graduating summa cum laude among a field of candidates that featured 38 honors graduates, including eight magna cum laude, and 29 cum laude graduates. Tremaine Reese, who was among the honors graduates, was also recognized for his service as outgoing Student Bar Association (SBA) President, and 2011-12 American Bar Association Law Student Division Chair.
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, who served as a prosecutor for more than 18 years, provided the keynote address with an overall theme imploring the soon-to-be attorneys to pursue justice for everyone. Attorney General Bondi remained on stage to greet each candidate as they were hooded, joining FAMU President James H. Ammons, FAMU Provost Larry Robinson, and FAMU College of Law Dean LeRoy Pernell.
Associate Dean Darryll Jones announced each candidate as they were hooded by FAMU College of Law Faculty of the Year Associate Professor Patricia Broussard, and Faculty Hooder Associate Professor Randall Abate. Professor Abate was selected by the Hooding Class of 2012, while the general law student body named Professor Broussard as faculty of the year.
The 2012 Hooding Class also named the Student Hooding Speaker, Rawsi Williams, who completed the part-time evening program. "Lead Through Service" was the title of her speech, which invoked elements of pride and passion with the oft repeated phrase "when you see us, you know us," encouraging the class to "yield great results" as "future judges, legislators, law professors and leaders in public service."
Additional law student speakers included Sallay Jusu, who served as the 2012 Student Graduation Chair for SBA, and Jason Duey, who worked with the FAMU College of Law Advocacy Board and Moot Court teams.
The next step for many will be the Bar Exams in July.