Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey will give the commencement ceremony speech for the Boston University School of Law Class of 2020 on May 17 at the Track and Tennis Center.
LAW announced her as the speaker on Twitter Thursday. Healey is the first openly gay attorney general in the United States and has enacted policies to address climate change, drug usage, gun violence and human trafficking.
Jeremy Thompson, assistant dean of communications and marketing for LAW, said that LAW has collaborated with the attorney general’s office in the past.
“We have some very strong existing relationships with the attorney general’s office,” Thompson said. “Our Immigrants’ Rights and Human Trafficking Program, which is headed by Julie Dahlstrom, [clinical associate professor of law], has been working with the attorney general’s office for some time on some initiatives related to combating human trafficking.”
Healey held a press conference at BU about her collaboration with LAW’s Immigrants’ Rights and Human Trafficking Program last fall, which is when the school’s administration got the idea to have her as a commencement speaker, Thompson said.
“We felt like she was a great representative for our graduates to hear from at graduation,” Thompson said. “So, Dean Onwuachi-Willig extended the invitation around that same time last fall, and the attorney general was able to say yes. We’re thrilled to have her.”
Thompson said the school tries to invite commencement speakers who work in a variety of different areas within the legal profession.
“We try to, year by year, identify people who’ve had a major impact on the legal profession in one way or another,” Thompson said. “That can, in one way or another, be inspiring to our graduates and give them the kind of send-off into their legal careers that’s memorable.”
Julien Gelly, a first-year LAW student, said it’s good for students in the school to see a member of the LGBTQ community represented in their field.
“BU has always been a school, and the law school in the same way, that is committed to diversity and inclusion,” Gelly said. “I have a number of classmates who are members of the LGBTQ community, and I feel like that is a big deal for them to see somebody who’s from their own community represented in the law school. That’s rare to find in the law field.”
Vinay Metlapalli, a freshman in the College of Engineering, said that bringing in Healey will send a great message to LAW’s graduating class.
“We’re at such a progressive time in our country,” Metlapalli said. “I believe more and more people are taking true pride in who they are as people, and having such a prominent figure who identifies the way she does … I think it’s sending a great message to the seniors who are about to contribute to this evolving U.S. community.”
Sophia Mylonakis, a freshman in Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, said she believes Healey should describe the obstacles a woman faces in a primarily male-dominated field.
“I feel like it’s important to understand how difficult it is for a woman and especially for LGBTQ women to succeed in such a field,” Mylonakis said.