Helen Wan ’98 Tells Grads to ‘Dream Big’ and Embrace Serendipity

You may well have been handed the keys to a diploma that can make a difference in the planet, but now it is up to you to make your own luck.

That was the central concept shipped by Helen Wan, a 1998 graduate of the College of Virginia Faculty of Regulation and writer of “The Partner Keep track of,” a ebook that grew to become a Netflix series in 2022, in her commencement speech to the Law School’s Course of 2023 on Sunday.

Wan reported the chance to talk to her alma mater’s graduating pupils 25 decades to the working day soon after her have graduation felt “a bit surreal.”

“Honestly, it feels a minor little bit like 1 of individuals magical Cinderella-at-the-ball moments that at times do occur in everyday living,” she stated.

But Wan urged the graduates to depend on neither serendipity nor magical considering while producing their future selves, and to figure out that some “bumps in the road” are better characterized as “opportunities.”

Wan credited her moms and dads for generating their own luck — and hers — by leaving anything powering to flee from Communist China to Taiwan and then the United States. Her dad’s initially occupation was washing dishes in a extravagant hotel, but he ultimately became a language instructor, and her mom grew to become a instructor, by putting them selves “in a wise position at a sensible time.”

Wan also spoke of gratitude for the life and professions her loved ones customers ended up equipped to construct in the U.S. which, even with its flaws, is still a place that provides tears of delight to her father’s eyes.

“In the Mandarin Chinese language, the United States of The us is referred to as ‘Mei Guo,’ and translated basically, that signifies ‘The Stunning Country,’” Wan explained. “My mother and father are just about the most reliable and appreciative Individuals I assume I know.”

Wan’s novel, “The Husband or wife Monitor,” is a staple in a lot of law college ethics courses, and explores how components like background, spouse and children, geography, race, gender, socioeconomic course, faith, privilege and accessibility to training shape the law firm working experience and ambitions of young lawyers.

Wan invested a year and a 50 percent at a key New York Metropolis legislation organization ahead of leaving for a lesser firm to focus on media and amusement law. She inevitably labored as in-dwelling counsel for a few media businesses and served as vice president and associate standard counsel for the Hatchett E book Group. In addition to working towards legislation and composing about it, Wan is a range, equity, and inclusion guide and speaker.

She inspired the graduates to “dream significant and be audacious,” but also to try to remember that it’s suitable to “step off ‘The Track’ — with a capital T” at times.

“Just because you can gather yet a further gold star on the list, it doesn’t mean you usually have to,” Wan explained. “It’s so quick to get so utilized to — and so excellent at — following all these breadcrumbs. So after in a whilst, just please don’t forget to cease and make certain they are primary you someplace you definitely want to go.”

Juhi Desai, president of the College student Bar Affiliation, launched Wan. UVA Legislation Dean Risa Goluboff offered welcoming and concluding remarks for the ceremony.

Goluboff saluted the class for its lots of achievements and benchmarks, which includes contributing far more than 12,040 hours of professional bono service. A full of 82 pupils satisfied the school’s 75-hour pro bono problem. These college students supported attorneys combating hate speech in South Africa, Ukrainians pursuing reparations from Russia, victims of domestic violence, neighborhood initial responders and citizens not long ago released from prison, and LGBTQ+ youth.

Goluboff also introduced scholar awards, which had been adopted by the hooding ceremony and ceremonial scroll presentation. In whole, there were being 285 J.D. and 40 LL.M. candidates.

Awards Presented at Graduation

Margaret G. Hyde Award

To the graduate whose scholarship, character, individuality, actions in the affairs of the college, and guarantee of effectiveness have warranted unique recognition.

Dev Priya Ranjan

James C. Slaughter Honor Award

To an excellent member of the graduating class.

Elana M. Oser

Thomas Marshall Miller Prize

To an fantastic and deserving member or associates of the graduating course.

Laura E. Lowry

Z Society Shannon Award

To the graduate with the optimum academic file following five semesters.

Jeffrey Robert Horn

Robert E. Goldsten Award for Difference in the Classroom

To the graduate who has contributed the most to classroom education by his or her fantastic recitation and discussion.

Amalia Isabel Garcia-Pretelt

LL.M. Graduation Award

To an fantastic member or associates of the graduating LL.M. class.

Augusto Nicolau
Amanda Lauren Staples

Roger and Madeleine Traynor Prize

To the graduate or graduates who have manufactured outstanding published operate.

Jeffrey Robert Horn
Dev Priya Ranjan

Herbert Kramer/Herbert Bangel Local community Support Award

To the graduate who has contributed the most to the local community.

Isaac Kevin Buckley

Pro Bono Award

To the graduate who contributed the most to the Legislation School’s Professional Bono Plan.

Kara Sue Hafermalz

Mortimer Caplin Public Company Award

To a graduate getting into a profession in the community support sector who demonstrates the characteristics of management, integrity and company to others.

Mary Sloan Denning Merkel

Edwin S. Cohen Tax Prize

To a graduate who has shown outstanding scholarship in the tax location.

Neil Michael Kelliher

Earle K. Shawe Labor Relations Award

To the graduate who displays the best promise in the subject of labor relations.

Anna Marie Bninski

John M. Olin Prize in Regulation and Economics

To a graduate or graduates who have manufactured exceptional created work in the field of law and economics.

Neil Michael Kelliher

Eppa Hunton IV Memorial Ebook Award

To a graduate who demonstrates unconventional aptitude in courses in the subject of litigation, and who exhibits a keen recognition and comprehension of the lawyer’s moral and skilled responsibility.

Skylar Rae Drefcinski

Virginia Trial Lawyers Demo Advocacy Award

To a graduate who displays individual guarantee in the field of trial advocacy.

Leah Judith DeFazio

Virginia Point out Bar Household Regulation E-book Award

To the graduate who has demonstrated the most assure and likely for the follow of loved ones regulation.

Christina Irene Antonucci