ASL Holds 20th Commencement Exercises
Grundy, VA (May 6, 2019) – The Appalachian School of Law held its 20th commencement exercises, Saturday, May 4, awarding the degree of Juris Doctor to 47 students.
Graduation exercises were held at Riverview Elementary-Middle School and were followed by a reception on the ASL campus.
“In too short a time for us, this 20th class of graduates is prepared to leave ASL,” said ASL Dean Sandy McGlothlin in opening Saturday’s ceremonies. “Each of you has worked hard to attain the Juris Doctor degree. Now, if you continue to work hard and continue to be students of the law, you are positioned well to contribute meaningfully to your communities and to the profession that is the law.”
Virginia Court of Appeals Judge Teresa Chafin, who is also a member of the ASL Board of Trustees, introduced the commencement speaker, Virginia Court of Appeals Judge Rossie Alston Jr., who she said was both a trusted colleague and very dear friend.
In his remarks, Alston told the soon-to-be graduates that they were each special, not just because of where they had come from, but from the hard work they had just completed at ASL which now placed them at the beginning of a new journey.
“Great service is a choice,” he told them, noting that as of their graduation day, they were becoming a part of a service industry, choosing as lawyers to serve others.
“You see it when you believe it,” he said, urging them not to be ducks, quacking and complaining, but instead to be eagles, soaring above everything. “The ball is in your court. A man reaps what he sows.”
Telling the story of a father and son on a graduation day, he urged them to always be looking for blessings in life, asking how many times a blessing is missed because one fails to see or know the package it is in.
“Be aware of miracle moments,” he said. “Stay aware always. As long as you are alive, a miracle is possible. Trust in God’s plan.”
Payton Johnson, of Clintwood, Va., delivered the valedictory address at Saturday’s commencement ceremony.
Johnson urged his classmates to put the work in this summer to do what they needed to do to pass the Bar. He urged them not to be afraid of failure as they sought success and he said he had faith in his fellow classmates and their abilities going forward.
“We can make a difference in our own lives and in the lives of others,” he said.
ASL Alumni Association President Matthew Hardin, a 2014 ASL graduate, delivered the alumni challenge to graduates reminding them the alumni association — now 1,000 members strong — was there for them.
He noted that in preparing to address the Class of 2019, he had looked up some of the history of the Appalachian mountains, noting that in their 480 million years, they had changed from weather erosion and the shifting of tectonic plates, yet their beauty was still there.
“You’ve spent the last three years becoming what you are today and just as the mountains change, so too each day you become new and different.”
He urged them to be “legal first responders, running toward causes and making a difference.”
Associate Dean Mason Heidt and Associate Professor Mark (Buzz) Belleville presented the students for hooding and the awarding of their degrees.
Students earning the degree of Juris Doctor at Saturday’s ceremonies included Elencia Alcius, of West Palm Beach, Fla.; Stewart Christopher Ball, of Chester, Va.; Susan Stephanie Barbian, of Saint Louis Mo.; Amanda J. Blankenship, of Buckingham, Va.; Laurann Brooke Singleton Brown, of Richlands, Va.; Amanda Rose Butcher, of Beckley, WV; Anna Lee Butcher, of Whitman, WV; Michael Joseph Charron, of Cincinnati, Ohio; Yannick S. Clayton, of Saratoga Springs, New York; Kristyn Danielle Densmore, of Jeffersonville, Ky.; Meredith Duff, of Prestonsburg, Ky.; Greg “Boomer” Easterling, of Kingsport, Tenn.; Robert Franklin Evans, of Logan, WV; Neil Edward Fannin, of Pikeville, Ky; and Bradley D. Fleming, of Clintwood, Va.
John Fielding Gibson, of Bluefield, WV; Richard Earl Gibson Jr., of Woodstock, Ga.; Alex Harclerode, of Bluefield, Va.; Kayla Nicole Hicks, of Tazewell, Va.; David Shane Hobbs, of Whitewood, Va.; Raven Hoff, of Charlotte, NC; William Claiborne Holden, of Boydton, Va.; Larry Javad Holder, of Raleigh, NC; Jacob Chandler Hurley, of Bluefield, Va.; Payton Ray Johnson, of Clintwood, Va.; Manpreet Kaur, of Amsterdam, NY; Edward Charles Malecki, of North Canton, OH; S.L. (Les) Mallow, Jr., of Keyser, WV; Barry Christopher Marcum, of Williamson, WV; Jasmin Petty Martin, of Sanford, NC; and Casey Shawn McCann, of Hamlin, WV, also earned their Juris Doctor degrees.
Wesley A. Miller, of Salyersville, Ky.; Ricky Brock Mounts, of Gilbert, WV; Emily Michelle Mullins, of Cold Spring, Ky.; Constance Brittany Mutong, of Plano, TX; Michael Jacob Neubauer, of Greenville, SC; David Max Poyer, of Los Angeles, Calif.; Samuel Justin Ray, of Newland, NC; Shenika Roshaundra Rich, of Warsaw, Va., Ashleigh Mary Richards, of Long Island, NY; Jenna Elise Roark, of Grundy, Va.; Adrian Lynette Roseboro, of Whiteville, N.C.; Ryan Michael Shears, of London, Ky.; Gregory Scott Smith, of Cameron, NC; William Daniel Thacker, of Kimper, Ky.; Kofi Yeboah Twumasi, of Queens, NY; Charles Alex Wright, of Rocky Gap, Va., also earned their degrees of Juris Doctor.
Terry Ratliff and Amy Presley, on piano and flute, respectively, provided prelude music for the ceremony. The Appalachian Highlanders Pipes and Drums provided music for the academic processional and recessional. Chris Slone, Mountain Mission School president, provided the invocation and the benediction.
“Knowledge can empower you to think innovatively,” McGlothlin said in her closing remarks. “Never be afraid to learn, unlearn and relearn. Accept the challenges life gives you with trustworthiness, honesty and integrity — and with everything you do, always ask yourself, ‘what is my heart telling me.’”