Speaker Vernā Myers addressing the Santa Clara Law Class of 2024

SANTA CLARA, Calif., May 18, 2024— Santa Clara University School of Law celebrated the graduation of its Class of 2024, with reminders that the law can be wielded in pursuit of compassion, dismantling of injustice, and building communities of kindness. 
“It is never too late to ask, ‘What will your legacy be? What will you do to usher in the Beloved Community? Who will be the beneficiaries of your work?’” said speaker Vernā Myers, a lawyer, author, and diversity and inclusion pioneer, to the 211 graduates.

Law student holding

The school’s 113th commencement ceremony took place Saturday, May 18, in the University’s Leavey Center. University President Julie Sullivan reminded the graduates that their Jesuit-based legal education is vitally needed in the world today, to humanely confront complex ethical and societal problems. “My charge to you is this,” she said. “Do not forget the Jesuit mission, values, and context of your education—and don’t forget why it matters.” 

Currently vice president for inclusion strategy at Netflix, commencement speaker Myers is a sought-after inclusion strategist, cultural innovator, thought leader,  and social commentator. Her TED talk on overcoming biases has been viewed over 5 million times and translated into 27 languages. Her course, Confronting Biases, was recognized as one of the top ten LinkedIn Learning courses in 2021 and has been taken by over half a million learners. 

Speaker Vernā Myers receiving an honorary degree at commencement for Santa Clara Law Class of 2024

Raised in Baltimore’s working class, Myers became a Harvard-trained lawyer and founder of The Vernā Myers Company. She authored two best-selling books published by the American Bar Association: “Moving Diversity Forward: Going from Well-Meaning to Well-Doing” and “What If I Say The Wrong Thing? 25 Habits for Culturally Effective People.” 

During her speech, Myers referenced the life and sacrifice of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and asked the graduates “What miracles would you like to see? And what are you willing to do so that more people can experience the exuberant gladness of the new age? 

She noted that in deciding on clients to represent and which cases to pursue, graduates may have to decide between “propping up the status quo of inequity and injustice,” and “fighting mightily for the rule of law, the rights of the dispossessed and opening doors… creating opportunities for those who have been excluded and underrepresented. “ 

The stakes are especially high now, said Myers, who received an honorary doctor of law degree during the ceremony. 

“You are going out into a world where some people have forgotten that the only way forward is forward, not backward,” she said. “We are seeing the retrenchment of rights, assault against diversity, equity and inclusion, book banning, disregard for the rule of law, losing our reproductive rights, and a willingness to retreat from our country’s founding tenets of freedom, equality, and democracy that admittedly, we have been struggling to realize for hundreds of years.”

Dean Michael Kaufman applauding the Law Class of 2024 at podium


The law school’s Dean Michael Kaufman similarly reminded the graduates of the words of Pope Francis, to always grow, not only in impact and responsibility, but also in tenderness, and “acts of loving kindness.”

Such acts “are indispensable to your own happiness and well-being (and) critical to your professional success,” he said. “They distinguish merely good attorneys from exceptional attorneys like you all are about to become.”


About the Santa Clara Law Class of 2024

  • 43.6% male, 56.4% female
  • 59.27% identify as Black, Latiné/x, and other non-white
  • 50 earned certificates in various areas of high tech law, including Privacy Law Certificates and Tech Edge J.D.
  • 18 earned certificates in public interest and social justice law:
  • 5 earned certificates in international law
  • 4 earned combined J.D./MBA degrees
  • 2 earned master’s degrees in U.S. law for foreign lawyers
  • 1 earned LL.M. degree in intellectual property law

Among the awards presented to graduates prior to the ceremony: 

  • Kiran Mahendra Sutaria received the Mabie Award for the Outstanding Graduate, Santa Clara Law’s highest academic honor, for academic performance, scholarly activities, leadership, and service roles at the law school and in the community.
  • Sixteen graduates received the Deans’ Outstanding Student Leadership Award for exemplifying Santa Clara Law’s mission of leadership, ethics, professionalism, respect, and service on behalf of classmates, clients, and the community. Recipients were Garrett Parker Clark, Eamon M. Condon, Jason Yasin Cowan, Maria P. Luzardo Figueredo, Alisha Hacker, Marisa Anne Hawley, Chelsey Jordan, Molly Lara Karasick, Rebeca Beverly Kinslow, Julianna Major, Kyle Anthony Perkins, Nicole M. Poirot, Sabreen Noel Ben Salem, Alexia Giselle Torres, Karina Vals, Maria Elaine Williams
  • Leor V. Chechik received the John B. Bates Jr., Dispute Resolution Award,  given in recognition of dispute-resolution-related coursework, publications, performance, and service.
  • Connor Thomas Haney received the Art Gemmell Prize, for best paper on International Arbitration/Conflict Resolution.

Watch the full Commencement Ceremony here.

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About Santa Clara University School of Law
Santa Clara University School of Law, one of the nation’s most diverse law schools, is dedicated to educating lawyers who lead with a commitment to excellence, ethics, and social justice. Santa Clara Law offers students an academically rigorous program including certificates in high tech law, international law, public interest and social justice law, and privacy law, as well as numerous graduate and joint degree options, including the Flex J.D., a hybrid part-time program. Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, Santa Clara Law is nationally distinguished for its faculty engagement, preparation for practice, and top-ranked programs in intellectual property. For more information, see law.scu.edu.

Media Contact
Deborah Lohse | SCU Media Communications | dlohse@scu.edu | 408-554-5121