Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer made a pitch for 134 newly hooded Florida A&M University College of Law graduates to stay and play a role in shaping the community for future generations.
“Some of you may be headed out of town to realize your dreams. For those of you who are undecided… For those of you still trying to figure out what job or exact career path you’ll apply that law degree to, it’s my hope that you’ll pursue all of that in Orlando,” Dyer told the gathering of faculty, graduates and relatives at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress on Saturday, May 7. “We’re building a city for you. One that has all of the necessary ingredients for you to follow your dreams. A community that is inclusive and welcoming and vibrant.”
A former state legislator who was a co-sponsor of the legislation re-establishing the FAMU College of Law, Dyer has led Orlando since 2003. He reminded graduates that opportunities can come from major career setbacks.
“If I had not been unsuccessful in my bid for attorney general, I never would have had the opportunity to run for mayor. Serving as the mayor of our city has been the best, most important job I have ever done. And I never would have had the chance to serve as mayor if I hadn’t failed first,” Dyer said. “There have been difficult times, like the Pulse nightclub tragedy almost six years ago and the COVID-19 pandemic. But every day has been inspiring, as I have been able to help our city grow, unite and shine.”
During the two-hour ceremony, FAMU President Larry Robinson, Ph.D., highlighted the historical significance of the College of Law’s 17th hooding ceremony.
“This is the 20th year of operations in Orlando – 20 years of producing lawyers and leaders or as you know it, Rattlers for Justice,” said Robinson, who reminded the graduates of the need to connect to the long legacy of accomplishment of FAMU and College of Law graduates.
“The FAMU Law legacies are rich and claim CEOs, presidents, managing partners, mayors, general counsels, civil rights leaders, and change agents in every profession and endeavor imaginable,” Robinson said. “Today, you join them by bringing your talents to a world that so greatly needs them.”
Student speaker Shanice A. Cameron, of Bronx, New York, urged her classmates to step boldly toward their future. She used a Rubik’s cube to illustrate the toughness of the three-year journey of law school during a global pandemic, the fallout from the killing of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.
“We were encouraged to identify our why, so when we started to feel like giving up, we could remind ourselves about why we were here and that would motivate us to keep going. For many of us our whys are sitting here in this room,” said Cameron, referring to the room full of parents, siblings, spouses, children and other friends.
“When giving up is looking like the best option choice,” Cameron said, “cross out that option every time. It is the wrong answer.”