Celebration of Law Alumni and Students of Color

Western New England University hosted its 24th Annual Celebration of Law Alumni and Students of Color and Award Ceremony on Friday, April 12, at the Marriott Springfield Downtown. Hosted in conjunction with the Office of Alumni Relations, this event serves as an annual opportunity to strengthen the WNE University School of Law alumni network, as well as celebrate the accomplishments of law alumni in the Springfield community and beyond.

The event included impactful alumni speeches from keynote speaker Attorney Rayshea Turner L’17 and the Honorable Charles Groce, III L’97, Annual Law Alumni Luminary Award recipient. The evening also featured Stephen Donkor 2L as the master of the ceremony and included remarks of gratitude from School of Law Dean Zelda Harris.

This year’s event featured the inaugural Law Alumni Luminary Award, highlighting a WNE University School of Law alumnus who has made a significant impact on the BIPOC community, has completed at least 10 years of contributions to the field of law, and shines a light for present WNE Law students to follow.

Award recipient, the Honorable Charles Groce, III L’97, was recognized for his work as an associate justice for the District Court in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Groce was appointed to the bench in 2012 by Governor Deval Patrick and currently serves as the first justice of the Westfield District Court in Westfield, Mass. He is the presiding justice for the Springfield District Courts’ court assisted supervised program and sits on the Board of Directors for the New England Association of Recovery for Professionals. Additionally, Groce is an active professor in the legal studies department at UMass Amherst, committing his time to educating the next generation of attorneys.

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With an enthusiastic and heartfelt speech, Groce shared his personal story and imparted advice, acknowledging that while he cannot predict what tomorrow may bring, he strongly believes that everyone can leave the world better by what we can control in our lives and how we treat others.

This year’s young alumna speaker, Rayshea Turner L’17, shared her experience in private practice as a founding partner of Wallace Turner Law in Albany, N.Y. She reflected on her journey of becoming a lawyer, as well as the events that inspired her to open her own practice. She addressed the importance of giving back, recognizing that doing so through legal services, pro bono work, or even volunteering one’s time, are all significant when helping those in need.

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