With #graduation season upon us, I thought I'd share my Valedictorian speech from Baylor Law School!!
I have a confession: I was almost a law school drop out…before I even really started.
It was the second day of law school orientation. The previous day, the students received an assignment to do over night and then the next morning we had a mock class so we could get a feel for what to expect when classes began. It’s 8 in the morning on that second day, the classroom doors swing open, the room goes silent, and a professor – who will remain anonymous – walks in. He scans the roll sheet and calls on Mr. Jones…lucky guy. The two talk back and forth discussing the reading for what feels like forever and all I can think is “I’m so glad he didn’t pick me!” Seemingly satisfied, the professor turns his attention to the other side of the classroom and Mr. Jones starts to sit down. Just as my classmate’s body touches his chair, the professor spins around and with a hard stare screams, “Mr. Jones! I did not say you could sit down. Stand up!” I’ve never seen someone jump up faster than Mr. Jones did that day. I’m a little embarrassed to admit it, but I went home and cried. I remember telling my Mom, “I just don’t know if I’m tough enough for this.”
Obviously, I did go back that next Monday, and most of the time it wasn’t quite as scary as orientation. You see, over the past few years, the 61 other graduates and I have discovered that we are tough enough. But to be where we are today, it doesn’t just take toughness. It takes intelligence. Confidence and humility. A sense of humor. Determination. Family and friends who remind you, when you need reminding most, what really matters…each other. It takes a staff who is always there to offer a smile and a word of encouragement. It takes professors who challenge you not just to become a better lawyer but to become a better person too. Etched into the front window of the law school is a quote from Micah 6:8. It says, “And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” When you put all of these ingredients together, what you have is a person who can go forward and do just that.
To my fellow graduates: Congratulations! When I think about graduation and what we have accomplished, I keep coming back to a line from a song that says, “You better lose yourself in the music, the moment/You own it/You better never let it go.” As we celebrate this day with the people who mean the most to us – the people who have helped us be where we are today – let us always remember this day as one of the happiest moments of our lives.
Lastly, on a personal note, I’d like to thank my parents, Joe and Johnnie Dickson. They have been there with support and encouragement through it all. Every day they live God’s ultimate lesson of unconditional love and self-sacrifice. Today we will leave Baylor Law School after being here for five years. (My dad likes to say that we’ve crammed three years into five!) However, Baylor University will not leave us. Baylor has welcomed all of us with open arms, just as my parents have taught me to do. Have faith. Work hard. Live each day to the fullest. Put others before yourself. Love unconditionally. When I receive my diploma, although it will just have one name on it, we all know it should have three.