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124th USC Gould commencement ceremony celebrates JD, undergrad degree recipients

Melissa Masatani • June 27, 2024
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Student speakers, from left, were undergraduate representative Allea Nojadera, 3L Class President Madeleine Hoye, and Student Bar Association President Soleil Montemurro.

California Supreme Court Justice Goodwin Liu advised the graduates on accomplishing change


The USC Gould School of Law celebrated 225 of its newest graduates on May 10, including the first four undergraduates to receive the Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies, during the JD/Undergraduate Commencement. The ceremony took place at the USC University Village Great Lawn.

The keynote address was delivered by California Supreme Court Justice Goodwin Liu, who spoke to the graduates about his path from being a student activist to his position as an appellate judge, imparting advice with humor and wisdom.

A man stands at a podium.
Keynote speaker the Hon. Goodwin Liu | Watch the address

“I’ve learned that there’s an important difference between tactics and beliefs. Just because someone doesn’t share your tactics, doesn’t mean they don’t share the same beliefs,” he said. “To accomplish meaningful change in this world, we need people in different roles doing different things inside and outside the system.”

He added that effecting change in a diverse society requires “slow work, dialogue and compromise.”

“Experience has taught me that you can get more done in the world if you’re not too sure you have all the answers,” Liu said. “That actually may sound counterintuitive but humility and openness signal confidence in who you are and what you believe while inviting other people to lend their ideas and their talents in shaping a shared project or a common goal. Humility is too often mistaken for weakness when in fact it’s a hallmark of effective leadership.”

Franita Tolson, USC Gould Dean and Carl Mason Franklin Chair in Law, encouraged the graduates to celebrate the culmination of years of hard work.

A woman smiles while standing behind a podium.
USC Gould Dean Franita Tolson | View more photos of the USC Gould 2024 JD/Undergraduate commencement celebration here

“The Class of 2024 represents a wealth of different backgrounds and experiences,” she said. “You each faced your own unique challenges individually but this morning all of you share one thing in common: you earned a degree from one of the most distinguished law schools in the country.”

She also advised the graduates to remember one thing as they move forward in their careers: Be kind.

“This call to kindness comes in many different forms; mentoring a rising colleague, expressing appreciation to your loved ones, checking up on an old friend, showing compassion to someone from a different walk of life,” she said. “Being kind doesn’t distract from the great things you’ll become, it just makes you a better version of them.”

The 221 Juris Doctor recipients and 4 Bachelor of Science graduates also heard from three student speakers: Student Bar Association (SBA) President Soleil Montemurro, 3L Class President Madeleine Hoye, and undergraduate representative Allea Nojadera.

Watch a full video of the JD/Undergraduate ceremony here.

Four people in black commencement robes smile outdoors.
The first Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies degrees were conferred on four graduates. They are, from left, Yu (George) Yang, Madison Kumai, Zahra Chaudhary and Allea Nojadera. Read about them here.

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