Commencement 2017: Remarks by Sophia Makris, Class of ’17 Permanent Class President

Texas Law’s annual graduation festivities, known as the Sunflower Ceremony, were held this past Saturday. The Law School graduated 312 J.D.s and 43 LL.M.s. Permanent Class President Sophia Makris addressed her classmates and their guests. Below is a transcript of her remarks:

Good afternoon to the administration, faculty, family and friends, and of course the Class of 2017,

At Texas Law, I learned that a legal education is not so much about filling you up with knowledge as it is about “learning how to think like a lawyer.” After all, we are paying Barbri, Themis, and other bar review courses, to fill us up with knowledge come Monday when we begin studying for the bar…but that’s besides the point.

This is the place where we learned from some of the greatest minds in the legal field. This is the place where nationally renowned scholars opened their doors, welcomed our questions, and distilled concepts so that we too could engage in the discussion. This is the place where the administration always put the interests of students first and fiercely protected the legacy and future of Texas Law. Thank you to the faculty and the administration who transformed us into lawyers ready to face the challenges to come. I speak for the entire class when I say, we took your lessons to heart…or at least, we did on the days we showed up to class.

On a more serious note, I’m honored to be standing in front of you today…but to be very clear, this speech is not about me. It’s about you. All of you. The Class of 2017.

  • The class with a student who triumphantly held up the Hook ‘Em sign as she crossed the halfway mark of the 2017 Boston Marathon.
  • The class with a student who organized a visit from Justice Clarence Thomas of the Supreme Court of the United States at a law journal’s 2016 banquet.
  • The class with a student who courageously testified in opposition of a bill in front of the Texas Senate during the most recent legislative session.
  • And…the class with a student who graciously opened up her home to her entire 1L Section and hosted “law prom” for a classmate who was hospitalized during our first school wide law prom.

You entered law school on your own terms. The first day of school, you all made the conscious decision to build a foundation that would withstand the infamous competition that plagues law schools across the country. When the curve reared its head, you all rejected it and instead, welcomed each other with open arms. You set those terms and you stood by them.

There is one memory that often comes to mind when I think of our 1L year…it is the many tears that were shed in the library those fateful weeks before we took our first law school exams. You know, all those times we took turns breaking down because the world was indeed ending. I remember bumping into one of my classmates and giving her the biggest hug I could muster in the hope that it would ease some of her desperation.

Our 2L year, we were proactive in preparing for our state bar exam. We committed to gathering every Thursday night for bar review…at 10 PM…at a bar. We gathered, remembered our 1L year, and breathed a sigh of relief knowing that we had survived the toughest year of them all. We did it…and now it was time to embark on the rest of our journey…

We dove into our extracurricular activities. We signed up for our legal journals, joined advocacy teams that competed and won time and again across the country, took on leadership in various law school organizations, and really began making our mark on the Texas Law community.

To many, the greatest moment of our time in law school is not this moment, no, it was the moment we realized that as 3L’s we could construct our class schedules so that we would always have 4 day weekends. On those weekends, we had the privilege and responsibility of hash tagging all our adventures with #3LOL on all social media platforms.

For those of you that may be wondering where I’m going with this, 3L is the label or term used to describe our third year of legal studies. L-O-L is an acronym for laughing out loud. And so, I am proud to say that this class took its responsibility of 3LOLing very seriously…we worked hard, and played even harder.

We earned it. We committed to ourselves, each other, and this institution in a way that put us on the map…or more importantly, moved us up to the T14 on the U.S. News Report Law School Rankings.

And now, we are Free-L or Done-L, I haven’t quite decided which term I like better but the moral of the story is, we did it. Let’s celebrate our accomplishments today. Be selfish for a moment. Bask in the glory of this achievement. We earned it…but don’t bask too long, on Monday we will all hit the books again and prepare ourselves for the biggest test of our lives.

There is no other group I would rather be facing this next challenge with. I know you all will lend a hug to me in the library when I’m desperate, you’ll meet me at one of those bars we reviewed at for a drink when I just need a break, and you’ll all remind me that 3LOL doesn’t have to end because at least, we can laugh with each other through this next endeavor.

As your Permanent Class President, I have had the privilege of getting to know so many of you over the last three years. As you each go off to cities across the country, I have full confidence that you will continue on the same vein you have for the last three years. I can’t wait to see each of you make your mark on the world the way you made your mark here, at Texas Law.

Finally, on behalf of all of us, I want to thank the people that made us who we are. The people that led us to this day, the day we earn a simple piece of paper bearing the not so simple words “Doctor of Jurisprudence.” We didn’t do this, any of this, on our own. We needed you to get here. On behalf of the Class of 2017, I want to thank our family, spouses, partners, friends, and loved ones who supported us each step of the way.

And a final thought: To Texas Law, thank you for the opportunities, big and small, that you afforded the Class of 2017 in our brief but memorable time as students. From here, let’s go change the world.