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Pepperdine Caruso School of Law Celebrates Commencement 2021

On Friday, May 21, the Pepperdine Caruso Law Class of 2021 cheerfully reunited at Alumni Park to celebrate their commencement after more than a year of being separated from their friends and colleagues. Over 400 candidates graduated from Caruso Law in the 2020-2021 academic year, receiving Juris Doctor, Master of Laws, Master of Dispute Resolution, and Master of Legal Studies degrees. A glorious day greeted the graduates who were able to join in the commencement ceremony overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

Graduates seated on Alumni Park for the Class of 2021 Commencement

The 2021 ceremony opened with Zachary Carstens offering an invocation and leading the Pledge of Allegiance, which was followed by Carlie Bauer performing the National Anthem.

Carstens delivered the student address in which he reflected,"The last three years taught us how to drop the illusion of control and practice the discipline of belief. The greatest relief is singing harmony in a celestial score you didn't compose, letting go of the arrogant need to cram the universe inside of your two-pound brain. We take the pain and perseverance we collected these last three years and look outward together toward a world on fire, armed with our beliefs and our better words. Class of 2021, together, we, with unmuted voices, we, with unmasked faces, will carry forward the lessons we learned and proclaim healing to our cities, to each other, and to ourselves. If things get better, or if things get worse, we carry this light, and we rise together."

Zach Carstens delivers his commencement address

Pepperdine University President Jim Gash then presented the Distinguished Alumnus Award to Angela Powell, Class of 1997 and Seaver College Class of 1993, and member of the Board of Advisors for Caruso Law. Powell is a partner at Manning & Cass, Ellrod, Ramirez, Trester LLP. Powell spoke to the graduates about their future careers, advising, "Be patient, be empathetic, and most of all, be kind. The true measure of your success will not be your win-loss record for the cases you litigate. Rather, it will be how you treated your colleagues and adversaries along the way. You face a world of uncertainty, but one thing is certain. You have the strength to overcome adversity. I wish all of you much success in your career."

A graduate sings the National Anthem

Angela Powell speaks at the Class of 2021 commencement

The commencement speaker, Honorable Consuelo Callahan of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, was introduced by Board of Advisors and Class of 2001 member, James Azadian. Azadian, who served as a law clerk to Judge Callahan, recounted her many singular achievements and commended her to the graduates by saying, "As you step forward into the legal profession, my wish for you is that you set an elevated tone of dignity, as Judge Callahan has done, and that each of you has a life and career as full as hers."

Judge Callahan speaking at Commencement on Friday, May 21

A graduate wearing a lei at commencement

Judge Callahan then took the podium and remarked that one of the best parts of her profession is getting to wish graduates well as they chart their own destinies. She advised the graduates, "Be the Pepperdine lawyer you have been trained to be. Do live a life of purpose, service, and leadership. Do see value in yourself and every person that crosses your path. Set goals for yourself and don't let the non-believers define your future. Know that hard work and determination are essential to your success."

Dean Paul Caron followed the commencement address with the presentation of candidates for graduate degrees, which were conferred by President Gash. After the graduates in attendance processed across the stage to collect their degrees, classmates who could not attend were recognized in absentia. The joyous and inspirational ceremony was then concluded with a benediction delivered by Chalak Richards, Assistant Dean of Student Life, Diversity, and Belonging and member of the Class of 2012.

Pepperdine Caruso Law congratulates the Class of 2021 for their remarkable perseverance and accomplishments amid a year of extraordinary challenges. You can view the complete Caruso School of Law Commencement on YouTube.

Graduates seated at the 2021 commencement on Alumni Park