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Our Law School Graduates Bring International Flavor to Ceremony

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Attendees to the commencement ceremony on Thursday, Dec. 13, in the BankUnited Center. (Photo: Miami Law) Full-Size Photo

Odette Norton believes she may have introduced roller-blading to Paris in the early 1990s. On a summer holiday, she brought her skates to La Ville-Lumiére for travel á la roue. People she met were curious about them – even the police, who stopped her for a friendly interrogation. A decade later, the city's gendarmes incorporated in-line skates into their patrolling repertoire.

A native of Nova Scotia, Norton grew up in Syracuse, N.Y., the Weather Channel's frequent "Snowball Champion," where she ice-skated on the frozen streets, took up cross-country ski racing and, in the fall, picked apples. She split her summers between Montreal and rural France, which did wonders for her French.

She went to Columbia University and received a Bachelors of Arts degree in History and Sociology, before going on to earn two other graduate degrees: a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at the University of Michigan and a Master in Visual and Cultural Studies from the University of Rochester.

Norton returned to Syracuse to work in her mother's ophthalmology practice before setting her sights on Miami Law. "I thought I might like to practice Admiralty or Maritime law, and this was certainly one of the hotspots for that kind of practice," she said. "I also had a strong interest in International law, and this became an obvious choice once I thought of those two things. I was very attracted by the faculty; they looked to me like some of the best in the country."

Norton, who comes across as poised and self-assured, will be staying on at Miami Law for a short while, doing research in International law for Paula C. Arias, Lecturer in Law and Director of the International Moot Court Program. "Odetta's passion for learning and perspective about legal issues, due to her interesting background, has become fundamental for a project about Latin America that I am developing," Arias said. "I am sure Odetta will be a great attorney, because she cares about others and she wants to make a difference."

"I plan to stay in Miami," Norton said. "I found that I really like Bankruptcy and Art law. Having a graduate degree in Art History, my classes in Cultural Property and Heritage Law, as well as Art Law, with Professor (Stephen) Urice made law school really click for me. But I also found that I really enjoyed classes like Bankruptcy, for example, with Patricia Redmond."

Autumn Page was named after an Edgar Winter song that her mother loved. Lucky for her, because her father, Ernest, had wanted to name her Ernestina. She grew up in tiny Conyers, Ga., the self-proclaimed Crepe Myrtle Capital of the World.

Page is also the first Miami Law student to have graduated from Berry College, founded in 1902 in Floyd, Ga. The school, the first established by a woman, gave rural boys access to higher education. Berry added girls in 1909, and with its 27,000 acres is one of the world's largest campuses. While there, she studied political science and philosophy.

Next, Page was off to study at the University of Glasgow, where she received a Master of Science degree in International Politics. After surviving both the cold and the haggis, she longed for palm trees and warm ocean breezes. Miami Law fit the bill, both aesthetically and educationally, and she enmeshed herself in the study of International law.

As it turned out, public interest law spoke to her, and Page was soon devoted to the idea that everyone deserves equal access to justice, regardless of economic status. After being both a student attorney in Miami Law's Immigration Clinic and an intern with the Miami Dade Public Defender's Office, Page said she is committed to a career defending the indigent, and of being "extremely pro-defendant."

"Autumn earned a top student award in the Immigration Clinic for her excellent and passionate work on behalf of the clinic's clients," said Becky Sharpless, Associate Clinical Professor and Director of the Immigration Clinic. "She has a strong commitment to social justice work and hopes to practice criminal or immigration defense law."

In a rite that signals the ab ovo usque ad mala of their academic lives, Norton, Page and other University of Miami School of Law students took part in a commencement ceremony on Thursday, Dec. 13, in the BankUnited Center alongside undergraduates, master-degree candidates and doctoral candidates from all twelve of UM's schools and colleges. In the final act of their law school career, the students walked across the stage to be congratulated by President Donna E. Shalala and Dean Patricia D. White.

The ceremony was streamed live on the web, at www.miami.edu/commencement. Miami Law hosted a reception for graduates and their families at the Lowe Art Museum after the ceremony.