Commencement 2022

U.S. District Court judge encourages graduates to be their best

Judge Lisa Godbey WoodMembers of the Class of 2022 – including Juris Doctor, Master of Laws and Master in the Study of Law candidates – participated in the School of Law’s Commencement ceremony on May 21.

U.S. District Court Judge for the Southern District of Georgia Lisa Godbey Wood (J.D.’90) delivered the keynote address and noted what a monumental morning it was for the graduates.

“Whether you made it here as a sure thing or whether you made it here despite stunning odds, make no mistake this is a singular accomplishment and a singular opportunity,” she said.

“An important starting gun will fire when you start across this stage,” she told the graduates. “You have a fresh start to get out of your seat and, one step at a time, take your footprints to your heart’s desire. Whether you started from Bosnia or Macon, you can decide one step at a time to end up where you want to be doing exactly what you want to do.”

Wood encouraged the members of the Class of 2022 to be their best selves as they embarked on their post-law school lives. She advised them to stay honest with themselves and others and to remain connected to those in their communities.

“There are so many people who need your time, your gifts, your education. Don’t save it for later in your career. That day never comes,” she said. “Too many people wait aimlessly for a sign [or] long for a miracle to jumpstart their actual life. They don’t realize that every morning they see one in the mirror. Your birth – every single one of us – is a one in a billion miracle and today we find out what you do with yours.”

She closed her message by encouraging the class to go forth and remember “yourself and your moral compass. … Give your career your authentic, honest, connected best.”



group of students at graduation

Soon-to-be graduates smile for the camera! First row (l. to r.): Donavan Juleus, Davon Maddox, Destiny Burch and Ta’lor Billups; second row: Kayla Hope, Jeffrey Hendricks, Tatiana Moseby and Jarvis Steele; third row: Eliza Gillispie, Justin Blair, Ashleigh Rasheed-Britt, Jordan Dillard and Christopher Brock.


Bo Rutledge

Dean Bo Rutledge talks with students before the ceremony. Photo by Dennis McDaniel.


members of the platform party

Haley Klass, president of the Student Bar Association, Class President Sam West (center) and Kate Jensen (J.D.’10) (right), the Law School Association president, pause for a photo. Photo by Dennis McDaniel.


Hannah Sbaity

Hannah Sbaity smiles after crossing the stage. Photo by Dennis McDaniel.


Kayla Hope

Kayla Hope, one of the inaugural Robinson Scholars, hugs Robbie Robinson’s widow, Ann, after crossing the stage during Commencement. The Robinson Scholars Program is named after the 1974 law school graduate and slain civil rights leader, and it supports students who plan to work in public interest jobs.


group of students at graduation

2022 graduates (l. to r.) Cole Harper, Haley Kairab, Courtney Hogan, Abigail Olson and Kirstiana Perryman prepare for their bright futures with appropriate eyewear. Photo by Dennis McDaniel.