Monday, August 19, 2019

Welcoming the Class of 2022


New members of the Class of 2022 attended Convocation ceremonies on August 19, 2019.

Dean Heather Gerken welcomed the newest class of students to Yale Law School during convocation ceremonies on August 19, 2019.

Of the 212 members of the Class of 2022, 49 percent are students of color and 54 percent are women. Notably, 25 percent are the first in their families to attend graduate or professional school, and 11 percent are the first in their families to graduate from college. The Class of 2022, together with the Class of 2021 and 2020, comprise the most diverse student body in Yale Law School history.

“We are thrilled about the incoming class,” said Gerken.  "The great diversity within the class — of life experiences, backgrounds, and perspectives — is essential to our vitality and continued success as an institution.”

The incoming class showcases a wide range of talents and backgrounds, arriving in New Haven from 11 different countries, 34 different states, and 78 different undergraduate institutions. Together, they have worked and lived in 65 different countries and read and speak 29 different languages. Altogether, the Class of 2022 holds 49 advanced graduate degrees in subjects that range from medieval and Renaissance literature to health policy and global health.

 “Globally, you have a classmate who assisted refugees in Kenya and Somalia; one who has worked with a gender-based violence prevention project in Rwanda; and another who has served as a technology policy specialist in China,” Gerken said.

In addition to the Class of 2022, there are also 15 transfer students joining the Class of 2021 as well as 23 LL.M students, 5 new candidates for the J.S.D. degree, one new M.S.L. candidate, and one new candidate for the Ph.D. in law.

Gerken offered the new class advice on how to be successful in law school, an environment that is “entirely different from anything you’ve done before, and nothing fully prepares you for it.”

“My first piece of advice is to learn like a kindergartner,” Gerken said. “Think back to that time when everything was new to you and everything was interesting. When you were terrible at just about everything, but it didn’t bother you in the slightest.”

“Learn in a fashion that is unselfconscious, uninhibited, and unflappable. Luxuriate in new and interesting ideas and don’t worry about having all the answers yet, because you won’t.”

Gerken encouraged the incoming class to fight the feelings of “imposter syndrome” as they start their first semester of law school surrounded by so many talented peers.

“There’s also the simple fact that law school involves a new set of skills,” she said. “You will get knocked back. I’m telling you. You cannot learn without getting knocked back.”

The methods of teaching in law school can feel awkward, uncomfortable, or embarrassing, Gerken told the assembled students. “You will get things wrong all the time, as will everyone else, even if they don’t realize it,” she said.

As she has in the past, Gerken encouraged students to run, but not race. “Run somewhere, and run there because that’s where you want to go. Run by yourself sometimes, and also run with others too – on a cooperative project, a Journal, a clinic, or with a professor.”

“Run down paths you’ve never tried before, just to see what they are like. And if you find a run you especially like, return to it over and over again, just because it sustains you.”

In that spirt, Gerken talked about the Many Paths Initiative, aimed at highlighting the diverse array of career paths Yale Law School alumni have taken. “There are so many paths open to all of you, but only if you are ready to choose your own. So I encourage you to always keep your eyes, and your mind, open,” Gerken said.