Brown speaks from experience to graduates of BC law school

By Milton J. Valencia
Globe Staff / May 29, 2010

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NEWTON — US Senator Scott Brown returned to his roots at Boston College Law School yesterday, cracking jokes about his time as a student there while urging graduates to never give up on their goals, in law or in public service.

“It’s amazing what a person can accomplish on the strength of raw determination. I never listened to the naysayers, and my advice to you is neither should you,’’ Brown, a 1985 graduate of the law school, said during commencement exercises at the school’s Newton campus.

“Don’t ever let anybody dictate where you should go, or what you should do.’’

Brown, who coasted to victory in a special election in January to replace the late US Senator Edward M. Kennedy, did not discuss national policies or explain his decision making on recent votes.

Instead, he reminded the 273 Boston College Law School graduates that he was a student just like them more than two decades ago — the school has expanded and has parking now, he noted — and that their decisions can carry them anywhere.

“The knowledge I gained and memories I have from my days at Boston College Law School helped truly shape me into the person I am today,’’ said Brown, whose daughter Ayla graduated from the undergraduate school earlier this week.

“You will find that your life will be richer due to the experiences you had right here on this campus.’’

Several graduates said Brown’s message highlighted that they had become part of the Boston College family over the last three years.

“It tells you about everyone here,’’ said Yan Kuznetsov, of New York. “They really made me feel like part of a family, with that togetherness.’’

Joanna Kornafel of Connecticut said the ceremony was the culmination of three years of work for graduates and their families.

Of Brown’s speech, she said: “It was good to hear from someone who graduated from Boston College Law, and started his path here.’’

R. Michael Cassidy, associate dean for academic affairs, urged the graduates to use their law degrees to better society. He said lawyers have always played a role in shaping the world.

“You are now trained for whatever challenges life is going to throw at you — and there will be others,’’ he said.

Brown worked to mix in a bit of humor as he urged the graduates to exercise the same perseverance he did in his grueling campaign.

Between cracks about his modeling photo spread two decades ago and his trademark slogans — “And I still drive my truck’’ — he told graduates that their law degrees will help them in careers ranging from business to real estate to tax laws, but that they should serve with a sense of integrity.

“That takes confidence, mental agility and sound judgment, personal and professional ethics, perseverance, but most of all it takes courage and determination,’ he said.

“Here’s a piece of advice for a career in law, or any career for that matter: When you set a goal and everyone tells you that it cannot be done — if your gut tells you otherwise, then go with your gut,’’ he said. “If it’s truly in your heart to take a big chance, then ignore the doubters and give it everything, everything, that is in you.’’

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