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STL PKU Celebrates the Class of 2020 in a Virtual Commencement Ceremony

On June 20, the first-ever virtual commencement ceremony of Peking University School of Transnational Law was successfully held to celebrate the Class of 2020 on their tremendous accomplishment. Students with their families and friends from all over the country and all around the world gathered together online to join this special ceremony.

Although held online, the ceremony retains the tradition of STL’s commencement. This year’s speakers included the Dean of STL Philip McConnaughay, the current Vice President of New York Shanghai University Jeffrey Lehman , STL professor Mao Shaowei, J.D/J.M graduate representatives Xu Rui and Qu Gangyi, and LL.M. graduate representative Jonathan Koh.

Acknowledging the drastic change and uncertainty graduating students are now facing, each speaker in their speech called on students to celebrate their achievements to date and to face the challenges ahead with their knowledge, bravery, and kindness.

The graduation ceremony began with a warm congratulation video. Professors, students and STL alumni expressed their warmest and most sincere blessings to the graduates through the video. Dean Philip McConnaughay then praised the class of 2020 for achieving great success by finalizing STL’s extremely rigorous and demanding J.D/J.M program commenting that they “are setting new standards of professionalism for the emerging Chinese legal profession.”

Noting that the world had changed so drastically since the Class of 2020 began their journey in STL in 2016, Founding Dean Jeffrey Lehman encouraged everyone to not be discouraged. Instead, he reminded them that they “are about to set off on a quest. A quest to craft a life of worth and purpose.” And “nothing can prevent them from succeeding in that quest.”

Professor Shaowei Mao’s speech focused on the theme of “Profession and Professionals”. He asked the question, “how can we be professionals in such a world?”. Professor Mao pointed out that the term “professional” is “a special thing that distinguishes us from other people, a special way to connect us with other people”. At the end, he encouraged the graduates to pursue a good career and a good life that they define themselves.

J.D/J.M graduate representatives Xu Rui and Qu Gangyi, and LL.M. graduate representative Jonathan Koh, expressed their sincere gratitude to professors, faculty, and their classmates in their speech. “In the midst of this historical global pandemic” Xu Rui said, “the commencement carries more weight than it ever has before.”  Qu Gangyi added that “being prepared” is one of the most important lessons he learned in STL, which is particularly useful for today’s world. LL.M. student speaker from Singapore, Jonathan Koh, recalled his experience of studying in STL. He shared: “there is no better place to do this than at STL…During my time here, I witnessed the strong push for thinking outside of the traditional confines of the legal discipline and legal profession…From a professional standpoint, STL ensures that students are well-equipped for the more practical aspects of future practice.”

Jiang Huiling, the senior judge of the Supreme People’s Court and the keynote speaker, contributed four tips to the students in his speech where he implored them to (1) live an ordinary life, (2) contribute to society, (3) have a humanistic spirit, and (4) try to stay away from the crowd. This speech was also the last time Judge Jiang attended an event as senior judge of the Supreme People’s Court. After this event, he joined Tongji University as a professor. At the end of his speech, he wished all the students “live a wonderful life” that is unique to themselves while also “trying to accomplish the missions in Confucius’ Book of Rites — “Cultivate the moral self, regulate the family, maintain the state rightly and make all peaceful.””

Despite lots of unprecedented challenges, graduates from the class of 2020 have overcome difficulties and achieved many impressive accomplishments. After graduation, some of them will go to Zhonglun, Fangda, Jindu, Junhe, Haiwen and other well-known law firms to continue to polish their professional skills. Some will work for well-known enterprises such as Huawei and Netease. At the same time, many students will work in state-owned enterprises, public interest institutions and government.

The ceremony concluded with a Degree Conferment video. Afterwards, an online Zoom chatting room was arranged for the professors and students to say farewell to each other. The next chapter holds exciting new adventures and STL community will be there to collaborate, empower, and support our students and alumni along the way.