Gabriella Oxford Delivers Student Address for Class of 2019 at Sunflower Ceremony
Gabriella Oxford, Permanent Class President for the Class of 2019, delivered an energizing, whimsical, and touching speech at this year’s Sunflower Ceremony. She began with a vivid tale of the terrors of the first day of civil procedure and concluded with a quotation from the teachings of iconic lawyer Elle Woods. In between were jokes, happy memories, and inspiring words that had her audience at full attention. Oxford, who served as a board member of the Women’s Law Caucus and the Texas Journal of Oil, Gas and Energy Law, and as coordinator of the Sutton Society for two years, reflected on the camaraderie exemplified by this class. Her remarks inspired pride amongst all who attended, not least of all for her father Hubert Oxford III, the Permanent Class President of the Texas Law Class of 1963! A full transcript of her remarks is below the video of her speech.
Remarks on Behalf of the Class of 2019, by Gabriella Oxford
As delivered on Saturday, May 25, 2019
Family, friends, faculty and every fabulous member of the class of 2019, good afternoon, and thank you for letting me say a few words. I didn’t tell my family that I was going to be speaking today, so SURPRISE Mom and Dad!
It is an honor to stand before you and to serve as your Permanent Class President – I am so humbled and I want to genuinely thank you all for everything you have given me over the last three years. While I convinced most of you to vote for me with promises of margarita machine filled reunions, I ran for this position so that I can give back to all of you –the UT Law class of 2019.
We have been dreaming of this moment since our first day of civil procedure. On that very first day of class, the professor chose two lucky classmates – Kelly Smit and Mark Bloom — as our class guinea pigs. The two of them stood in front of the class and she peppered them with questions – none of which they could have known – for the entire period. This torture lasted exactly an hour and 7 minutes. But Kelly and Mark survived. In fact, they did more than survive – they were brave, they took risks, and in that 67 minutes, they started to become lawyers. And the rest of weren’t just glad it wasn’t us – although we were certainly relieved – we were cheering them on.
That first 67 minutes really captures all of the last three years. We started out knowing nothing, scared, overwhelmed, more than a little lost. But we were brave, we took risks, we learned together and failed together and cheered each other on. And today, we are lawyers.
Most of you know that law school has not been the easiest for me – a Radio Television and Film Degree was probably not as helpful as an English, pre-law, or history degree – or literally any other. When I first came to UT, I was admitted as a rower…JK. But, in all honesty, I had imposter syndrome, and how could I not? You are a group of extreme overachievers and hard workers – I know this because no matter how hard I worked, many of you worked longer, or harder or smarter and came out on the right side of the curve – you’re welcome.
But no matter how we got here, we have become lawyers at the best place in the world to be a law student. We hear that a lot – and it’s true. It is because of the people sitting next to you. We are all so much more than law students. We have grown up together over the last three years – even if we started as grown ups already! We have seen section mates fall in love and get married, been there for births of new babies, deaths of loved ones, and the inevitable finals time meltdowns.
Law school is competitive in nature – we compete for the same jobs, same organizational positions, and some of you even competed for the highest grades in our class – however, it is our unwavering support and dedication to one another that makes our class stand out.
To our parents, families, and friends I want to thank you for listening to us complain, being there when we needed things to be put into perspective, and keeping us sane. This degree belongs to you as well – we would not have made it here without your encouragement, love, and support.
Administration and faculty, thank you for creating a space for us to learn, question, and grow as professionals and as people. Those 67 minutes on call weren’t just torture! You have encouraged us to think critically, to take risks, and to pursue our passions – whether in moot court or music in the courtroom!
And while today is a momentous day for everyone in this room, today is also the first day of the rest of our lives. We have just now scratched the surface of what we can do with this degree, and who we are. My challenge to you is not to let his this be the greatest thing you ever do. This degree is proof that you are not only extremely intelligent, but also brave and capable. With our incredible diversity and a degree from one of the best law schools in the nation, what starts here really will change the world.
Regardless of how you entered this beautiful gymnasium today – as a TLFER, a gunner, bar reviewer, or legal eagle, when you leave, you are not only leaving with a legal degree, but with 326 colleagues and friends.
The people sitting next to you have been there for you these past three years. And if you let them, they will continue to support you for the rest of your legal careers and lives. As your Permanent Class President, I have the privilege of staying in touch with you all following graduation – most of you know that I will not be shy in reaching out. But I urge you also to stay in contact with one another – these people know you, know your hearts, and have seen you grow. Your classmates can keep you grounded and continue to challenge you to be better, learn more, and dream bigger – just as they have throughout our time at UT Law.
While this class is setting off to all different parts of the country and the world, when times get tough, think back to that first day of civil procedure – and remember that we are still here, cheering you on.
I will close with the words one of the great legal minds of our generation, Elle Woods, whose Harvard Law School graduation speech 15 years ago was captured in the documentary about her life, “Legally Blonde”: “In my three years [of law school] I have come to find that Passion is a key ingredient to the study and practice of law – and of life. It is with passion, courage of conviction, and strong sense of self that we take our next steps into the world, remembering that first impressions are not always correct. You must always have faith in people, and most importantly, you must always have faith in yourself. Congratulations Class of , WE DID IT!!”