Rachel Tunney is one of 72 students in Dickinson Law’s class of 2021 to earn a juris doctor (J.D.) or master of laws (LL.M.). She participated in the in-person commencement ceremony on Thursday, May 13, held at the Cumberland Drive-In in Newville as part of the Law School’s “Drive to Thrive” initiative, a comprehensive program to celebrate and support the class of 2021 through the unique challenges caused by the COVID-19 global health pandemic. As part of the "Drive to Thrive” theme, which recognized not only the unusual backdrop for commencement but also the students’ determination to thrive during the pandemic, members of the stage party arrived at the ceremony in classic cars. Honking and cheers could be heard throughout the venue following the speakers’ remarks and the conferring of degrees.
Selected by her fellow graduates as this year’s juris doctor student speaker, Tunney, who will clerk for the Honorable Abigail LeGrow, 2004, at the Superior Court of Delaware, recalled the class of 2021 being welcomed with open arms that first year to "Practice Greatness" and having been surrounded by greatness at Dickinson Law throughout her law school journey.
“When I first heard this motto, I imagined the alumni who had come before us,” said Tunney. “People who were advocates and judges, all fighting passionately, successfully … greatly for their clients each and every day. When I think about the definition of ‘practice,’ to perform a skill repeatedly in order to improve one’s proficiency, I realize that is what my classmates have been doing all along.”
“Greatness was offering to send a struggling classmate your detailed notes even when you knew the professor was only going to give out six A’s,” said Tunney. “Greatness was being the voice for us all and refusing to be quiet. And it was delivering an oral argument mere days after your father was admitted to the hospital due to COVID-19.”
“In addition to taking on additional heavy physical and emotional burdens over the last 18 months by comforting family, friends and community members during the pandemic, students in the class of 2021 stepped into leadership positions at work, at home, and in the community above and beyond their law school responsibilities,” said Conway. “These students lent their strength, spirit and resources to their peers who, themselves, were called to expend their energies on the care and comfort of others.”
Former Chief Sustainability Officer for Comcast NBCUniversal Susan Jin Davis,1990, delivered the keynote address.