Graduation 2015

May 16, 2015

Graduation!* It’s truly a special time, when all around us are young (mostly) people who are ready to make their way in the world. 2015 is an extra special year for me, as Cate Rubin—smart, talented, energetic, vivacious, and beautiful Cate—graduates. Cate’s proud parents are Ms. J and yours truly. Her grandparents are Glenda Blackburn and the late Howard Wilson, and the late Uncle John Higgs, Rochelle Rubin and the late Herb Rubin, and Uncle Irwin Sattinger. Go Cate! (Special thanks to Aunt Pam and Uncle Craig, my sister and brother-in-law, for acting as “’rents” in Cate’s college ‘hood!) Here’s the soon-to-be grad with her parents:


As I write about graduation and Cate Rubin I get verklempt, which is Yiddish for excited, overjoyed, and full of emotion. It happens every year, in part because of Pomp and Circumstance, but I’m really feeling it now!

Last year I noted that fact that, in my industry, there are still traditional, big firm law jobs, but that Big Law hires fewer grads, pays them less. It’s my sense that it’s worse now. One story I heard involves a 7-8 year attorney, working on projects from out-of-state for a Big Law firm. The deal works for both parties. The young attorney is not the primary breadwinner in her household. As for the firm—and this is the tough part for me—its plan reflects a decision not to invest in its future by hiring grads who will work, get trained, develop client relationships, etc. Really telling? Two of the law school grads mentioned below joined the military, and it’s a decision which makes lots of sense A job, guaranteed wages, and lots of practice experience.

For all of you, there are many, many challenges. Our country has not done right by your generation, still. We’ve left you with a high hill to climb, but—and these words surely mean little, but I’ll share them anyway—I have tremendous confidence in you, the Millennials. Those of you I know are mostly serious, committed, kind, and sharing people. You’re being tested in ways my generation never was, and many of us will never get to know the end of the story. Go forth anyway, and make of your lives all you can!

In a moment I will mention many new graduates. I know many of them, and those with whom I am not acquainted are children of friends. First, though, I must comment briefly on the commencement address. The best address I have heard, still, is the 2012 Princeton Baccalaureate speech by Michael Lewis. (Text is here.) Michael Lewis gave a talk for the ages, really focusing on what does and does not matter! (Of course, he wrote about the revolution in baseball in Moneyball, so a “for the ages” Baccalaureate should surprise no one!)

I was also very impressed, this year, with First Lady Michelle Obama’s graduation speech at Tuskegee University on May 9. (Text here.) It’s less about the graduates than it might should have been, but it’s authentic and heartfelt, and no one can listen to or read the speech and walk away from it without an appreciation for being “other” in America. And, at an all-black university, it’s hard to argue with a speech that addresses that issue.

(Last year NPR just posted a list of 300 great commencement/baccalaureate addresses. Here’s the link:  The Best Commencement Speeches, Ever. Many include audio.)

Alright-y, on to the grads:

Cate Rubin, already mentioned, graduates from Beloit College with a degree in Chemistry.  Summer employment is in place. Anyone with knowledge about chemistry options, please contact Daddy-0 aka moi!

Cate’s cousin, Sam Haakenstad, graduated from Iowa State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in MIS. He’s got a job lined up in Columbus, OH, and is there now, with his mom/my sister Wynne, finding an apartment. Sam is one of the coolest dudes I know, and he’ll go far!

Briana Tully graduates from Boston College on Monday. Bri and Cate are twins from different mothers (and dads). Their moms, Sue Tully and Ms. J, met when they were months along in their respective pregnancies. They were born two days apart, and have been friends for more than two decades.

Cate has many, many friends childhood friends who are graduating this spring. I know I’ll miss many; please accept apologies in advance.

Shout outs to Ivy Hasman (University of Arizona), Becca Kennedy (School of the Art Institute of Chicago), Taylor Nash (University of Arizona), Michelle Snyder (Columbia University, and Andrew Whitehill (Knox College), to name but a few. (Please send other names and info to me at Updates intended.)

My friends Lynda and Bob Shely split time between intra-state rivals Arizona State University and the University of Arizona, celebrating the graduations of twins Kimberly aka Kimmy (ASU) and Robert aka Bobby (UA).

Sam Kleiner graduates from Yale Law School. Congrats to Sam and his parents, Jan and Rick Kleiner.

Tristany Leikem and Kylie Winkleblack—recent Mesch, Clark & Rothschild law clerks—graduated from the James E. Rogers College of Law at the University of Arizona … and they both passed the bar. Congratulations, Tristany and Kylie!

*This piece is adapted from Graduation, posted on May 18, 2014.

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