In a boisterous commencement ceremony Thursday morning in the BankUnited Center, law students joined undergraduates, master degree candidates and doctoral candidates from across the University of Miami campus to pick up their hard-earned degrees. Graduates were recognized by name as they walked across the stage to be congratulated by President Donna E. Shalala and their respective deans as applause rang through the cavernous hall.
In all, approximately 850 students earned degrees, although not all could be present for the occasion. Fifty-nine students — six of whom earned joint degrees — were honored by the School of Law. As is customary, the musical high point was a performance of Edward Elgar's "Pomp and Circumstance," and the crowd was treated also to a rendition of "Alma Mater" by the singer Jillian Staffiera, a student at the Phillip and Patricia Frost School of Music. The Advice to Graduates speech was given by broadcast journalist Jacqueline F. Nespral, AB '89, a former president of the University of Miami Alumni Association. Miami Law's outstanding graduates included:
Alvarez, who received a joint J.D. and M.B.A. degree, is the owner and founder of PrepSmart, a private tutoring company. His joint degree, he said, "has given me another perspective and has taught me some really valuable lessons for my business."
During his time at Miami Law, Alvarez also worked as a law fellow at The Launch Pad, a resource at the University of Miami that offers career guidance and advice to entrepreneurs, innovators and inventors. Additionally, he served as a clerk in the law office of Jorge A. Fernandez. Alvarez plans to take the Florida Bar in February and then devote himself to his company.
The articles and comments editor of the University of Miami Law Review, Smith received a joint J.D. and LL.M. in Taxation degree. Smith, who served as a research assistant for Miami Law Professors Elliott Manning, James Nickel, and Stephen Schnably, interned at the IRS Office of Chief Counsel, one of his favorite experiences during his time here. He also served as a judicial intern at the Southern District of Florida for the Hon. John J. O'Sullivan.
Smith said he enjoyed working as a reporter at the American Bar Association's U.S.-Latin American Tax Planning Strategies conference and having his article published in Practical Latin American Tax Strategies. Another article by Smith, titled "Quill by Affiliation," is to be published in the upcoming University of Miami Law Review. Smith benefited from the joint degree because, he said, "I learned a lot from a bunch of incredibly well-respected professors."
Tufts received a joint J.D. and LL.M. in Taxation degree this week. Tufts, who was a member of the Entertainment and Sports Law Society and Wrongful Convictions, decided to attend Miami Law because he knew, he said, that "the culture and environment of Miami could provide me with great opportunities to use and develop my Spanish-speaking skills."
Signing up for the joint-degree program proved to be the most rewarding thing Tufts did here. "Participating in the joint degree was the best experience in law school," he said. "Every day you are challenged by the country's leading experts in the field of taxation in an environment that is highly competitive and intellectually stimulating. The experience far exceeded my expectations, and I am honored to graduate with both degrees."
Fuhrman, who received a joint J.D. and M.B.A. degree, is passionate about politics. During his undergraduate years at Florida State University, Fuhrman interned with Senator Bill Nelson. After graduating, he went to work in the fundraising department of the John Kerry for President campaign. After that, he served as project director for Miami Green, Florida's first U.S. Green Building Council LEED-certified high-rise development. At Miami Law, Fuhrman was vice president of the Democratic Law Students Association and vice president of the Irish-American Law Students Association.
Fuhrman enjoyed his time at Miami Law, especially immersing himself in the joint-degree program. "Both programs have tremendous faculty to learn from and talented and energetic students to work with," he said. After the ceremony, the Law School hosted an elegant reception for graduates and their families at the Lowe Art Museum.