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Student Spotlight

“The World Could Use You Now More than Ever”

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Speaking frankly about the great responsibilities of leadership today, former executive director of UNICEF Carol Bellamy ’68, now president and CEO of World Learning, an organization that promotes international understanding, addressed this year’s graduating class. She urged the graduates to think of themselves not only as lawyers, but as leaders—a profound difference, she said—adding that lawyers have the tools necessary to take charge. “You have a thorough understanding of the law and how it applies to the real world, [you] can truly have a permanent and lasting effect on all of mankind.” She listed many injustices around the world: “Poverty, HIV/AIDS, disease, abuse and genocide are too complex to be solved by government and educators alone. We need your leadership.” Bellamy added, “It’s a privilege” to have graduated from the NYU School of Law. “Honor it and be proud.”

Reflecting on an academic year that began with the devastating hurricanes along the Gulf Coast, Dean Richard Revesz spoke of his pride in the humanity of the graduating class. “I was deeply impressed by our students’ responses,” Revesz said. “You set up fundraising efforts and clothing drives, and arranged legal assistance for those displaced by the devastation.” And he offered a parting wish: “My hope is that you combine your newly acquired knowledge with your passions; that you use what you have learned to take a stand with reason and integrity as well as conviction.”

Two students who exemplify Revesz’s ideal are Brandon Buskey and Alexander Dmitrenko, J.D. and LL.M. candidates respectively, who spoke on behalf of the class of 2006. Both delivered unique perspectives on their Law School careers.

“The law cannot help people,” said Buskey, a Root-Tilden-Kern and an AnBryce scholar who was raised in Fayetteville, North Carolina. “But people who know the law can help people.” In a crowd-pleasing, funny and personally reflective speech, Buskey described how in his first year, Professor Bryan Stevenson’s admonition to “find your own place in the law” led him to focus on public interest law and criminal justice by taking Professor Randy Hertz’s Juvenile/Criminal Defense Clinic and becoming a board member of Law Students Against the Death Penalty. He will continue to follow this path in 2006-07, when he serves as a clerk for the Honorable Janet C. Hall ’73 of the U.S. District Court of Connecticut prior to joining Stevenson’s Equal Justice Initiative of Alabama the following year.

Dmitrenko’s road to the Law School was quite different from Buskey’s, with his having grown up in what was then the Soviet Union and graduating magna cum laude from Rostov State University Faculty of Law in Russia. He also earned two previous international LL.M. degrees, in Budapest and Toronto, before receiving his tax LL.M. from the Graduate Tax Program at NYU. “Having grown up in a Communist household, it was the rebel in me that wanted to come to the ‘cradle of capitalism’—New York City,” Dmitrenko said in his remarks, which included thank-yous in eight languages. A prime example of “the global lawyer,” at 28 years of age Dmitrenko has already contributed to international taxation and constitutional law in places like Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia, as well as landmark rulings concerning same-sex marriage in Canada. He will start as a tax associate at Dewey Ballantine in the fall.

Before the conclusion of the ceremony, Lester Pollack ’57, chairman of the NYU School of Law Board of Trustees, introduced Daniel Blaser and Elida Kamine, who presented a $78,000 gift from the class of 2006, helping to ensure that future law students have the same opportunities for leadership and community that they had.