Birmingham School of Law held its annual commencement ceremony on May 13th at the Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center. Ninety-three graduates were recognized, and 71 participated in the celebration with family and friends.
“It was my pleasure to lead the ceremony in honor and recognition of these students,” says Scott Garrett, Associate Dean and a BSL alumni. “Dean Bushnell and I are very proud of this class.”
Highlighting the 2017 class were three valedictorians: Kent Pickering, Brandy Lee Gentry, and Whitney Kathryn Poole. “Kent, Brandy, and Whitney were truly outstanding BSL students. They each took 34 classes at BSL and earned only a single B throughout. A remarkable achievement by any measure,” says Garrett.
Gordon Warren, long-time Associate Dean who retired in early 2017, delivered the keynote address. After entertaining the guests with some of his favorite lawyer jokes, Warren encouraged the graduates to pursue their dreams and to never give up on achieving their goals.
This year’s celebration included a reception for graduates hosted by students at the Hyatt Regency in Hoover. “It is the first graduation reception organized and run by the students, and it was a great success. We had a wonderful turn out for the event,” Garrett says.
The reception was made possible by monies raised from law firms, local businesses and alumni (see list of donors below). “Special thanks go to those who donated funds for this special day,” Garrett says. “I would also like to thank the groups and individuals whose hard work and support made this celebration possible.”
Those who were instrumental in planning and coordinating the graduation events include the Judge Hugh Locke Honor Society (including President Michael Bell, Vice President Lakedra Armstead, and Service Arbiter Kelli Ewing) and the Black Law Student Association (including graduate and President Shelia Smoot).
Included in the graduation festivities was the conferring of awards to students, graduates and faculty. The awards included scholarships and scholastic honors (see list of award and scholarship recipients below).
Dean Bushnell presenting graduate Amanda Hardy with her diploma.
Valedictorian Whitney Poole addresses her fellow graduates.
Dean Bushnell addresses the graduating class.
The 2016-2017 Graduating Class of Birmingham School of Law
Donors for BSL Graduation Reception
Birmingham School of Law
The Patton Firm/Jeremy Schatz
Moe’s Barbecue Lakeview
Katherine Elmore, Esq.
Dean James Bushnell
Professor Richard Theibert
Dave Lewis, Esq.
Dan Crane, Esq.
Charles T. Henderson, Esq.
Cedrick Coleman, Esq.
Ross Kinder, Esq.
Scott Dollar, Esq.
David Bradley, Esq.
Bryan Wallace, Esq.
Leah Megginson, Esq.
Tracy Emond, Esq.
Frankie Brown, Brown’s Bar Lakeview
LaViese Goode Southward
Ellen Sullivan, Esq.
Brad Phillips, Esq.
J.D. Walker, Esq.
Wiggins Childs Pantazis, Fisher & Goldfarb
Kathryn Kyatt, Esq.
On behalf of Meredith Carpenter, formerly Markham
Birmingham School of Law
Scholarships, Awards and Recognition
The Law Enforcement Endowment (formerly the John H. Pratt Endowment)
Winner: Kevin Jerome Price
Available to law enforcement personnel who are currently enrolled full-time and have completed at least one academic year. Pays tuition and fees for three consecutive semesters.
Service to Women Award
Winner: Kendra Bristow Beauchamp
$500 award presented by the Women’s Section of the Birmingham Bar Association to the student who unselfishly has given time and energy in the service or promotion of women.
J.D. Walker Award
Winner: Jesse Renee Abernathy
Annual award of $500 presented by Attorney J.D. Walker, to be used for tuition, fees, and books.
Family Law Award
Winners: Catherine Cooper, TaShundia McGee, Michael Russ,
Charlotte Tuggle, Alexander Zoghby
Monetary award given by the Family Law Section of the Alabama Bar Association to an outstanding student in the Domestic Relations course.
Birmingham School of Law Outstanding 1L Award
Winner: Maurice Scott, 4.0 GPA
Award for tuition, fees and books for two semesters for the student with the highest grade point average for the first two semesters.
Recognition Award for Members of 2016 AAJ Mock Trial Competition Team
James Bushnell III
Wayne Heard, Jr.
2016 AAJ Mock Trial Golden Gavel Award
Winner: Michael Bell
BSL Minority Scholarship
Winner: Zane Purdy
$500 to be used for tuition, fees, and books. Selection criteria include student’s BSL academic record.
Judge Leigh M. Clark Memorial Scholarship
Winner: Cassandra Nichole Rhodes
Annual award for tuition, fees, and books for two semesters. Award funded by BSL.
Hugh A. Locke Jr. Memorial Constitutional Law Scholarship
Winners: Sara Beth Clayton and Laura Kirby
$1,500 award for tuition and fees for one semester, presented to the outstanding student in each section of Constitutional Law.
American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers Scholarship
Winner: Kelli Lauren Ewing
$1,000 for tuition, fees, and books. Awarded to the academically high-performing student who plans to practice family law.