Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul delivered the commencement address during the Northern Illinois University College of Law Commencement Exercises on Saturday, May 25, 2019 at the Holmes Student Center Sandburg Auditorium in DeKalb.
Attorney General Raoul was sworn in as the 42nd Attorney General of Illinois in January 2019. With an impressive breadth of experience in both public and private law practice, he brings a lifetime of legal and policy experience, advocacy, and public service to the Office of the Attorney General. He began his legal career as a prosecutor in the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office. He subsequently served as a Senior Staff Attorney for the City Colleges of Chicago, and he has also been a partner at two national law firms. Most recently he served the past 14 years as the Illinois state senator representing the 13th Legislative District.
During his Commencement speech, Attorney General Raoul talked about his passion and path to public service, noting that everyone’s path is different. He spoke about the opportunity of a lifetime for him to run for attorney general to be an advocate and voice for the voiceless. He advised the students to pick their paths motivated by purpose and not by competition. “Be the first and the best you – with your own particular blend of talents and experiences, identities and motivations.”
He went on to add that even though some of the graduates may be certain about where their career path leads, he advised them to leave room.
“Leave room for surprises, for failure, for changes in the world and changes in yourself. Most of all leave room for that spark, the one that propelled you to go to law school in the first place so that you can become the advocate that only you can become.”
Also imparting words of wisdom to the Class of 2019 were Professors of the Year Robert Jones and David Rosenfeld. In addition, Class Speaker Sonia Oswald took the class over their three-year journey by giving an insight on what their class like, reminiscing about their law school experience, and sharing their favorite memories.
Sonya thanked the law school faculty and staff for their support over the last three years. She then concluded with acknowledging the valuable support from family and friends by saying, “Thank you for allowing us the time and space to pursue our dreams and grow into the bright, competent legal powerhouses of tomorrow.”
The ceremony then concluded with graduate awards, hooding and diplomas, and the final conferring of degrees by NIU President Lisa Freeman.