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Pulitzer Prize winning author encourages SCU law graduates to use degrees to change the world

SANTA CLARA, Calif. – May 20, 2006.  Pulitzer Prize winning author Samantha Power gave Santa Clara University School of Law’s class of 2006 five lessons to ponder as they celebrate their academic success and pursue various professions with their newly minted law degrees.

Reflecting on personal stories, Power hoped one of her lessons would resonate with the 305 graduates seated in Santa Clara University’s Mission Gardens Saturday morning.  She shared stories of her experiences as a young war correspondent in Bosnia, working with U.S. Senator Barack Obama (D-Illinois), and of her struggles as a law student at Harvard. “Let reason be your tool, let justice be your cause,” she said. She encouraged the graduates to get involved in politics, to never underestimate the power of friendship, and to ask the question, “Why can’t we?” “You have a degree that can help those who cannot help themselves,” she said.

Power, who received an honorary doctor of law degree at the 155th Santa Clara University School of Law commencement ceremony, is a professor of practice in public policy at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard University. Her book, A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide, was awarded the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction and the 2003 National Book Critics Circle Award for general nonfiction.

“Samantha Power is one of this country's leading thinkers and writers on the international human rights issues. She is a role model for lawyers--including new graduates--who have a commitment to the rule of law and are committed to the important work of social justice advocates,” said Donald Polden, dean of SCU School of Law.

At the ceremonies, 294 J.D. degrees and 11 LL.M. degrees were awarded. Forty six percent of the J.D. degrees were awarded to women and students of color made up forty nine percent of the graduating class.  The LL.M. (Masters of Laws) degrees included three programs, U.S. law for foreign lawyers, intellectual property law, and international and comparative law. 

As Power congratulated the class of 2006 she said, “It’s now official, you can change the world, and you must.”

Read Power's speech in full.

Undergraduate commencement

Santa Clara University’s 155th undergraduate commencement ceremony will be held on Saturday, June 17 at 8:30 a.m. Thomas Reese, S.J. a widely recognized expert on the Catholic Church and former editor of America magazine, will address the class of 2006.

More about Samantha Power
Power was the founding executive director of the
Carr Center for Human Rights Policy (1998-2002). From 1993 to 1996, Power covered the wars in the former Yugoslavia as a reporter for U.S. News and World Report, the Boston Globe, and the Economist. She is the editor, with Graham Allison, of Realizing Human Rights: Moving from Inspiration to Impact. A graduate of Yale University and Harvard Law School, she moved to the United States from Ireland at the age of 9. She has written a new introduction to Hannah Arendt's Origins of Totalitarianism and has begun work on a book on the causes and consequences of historical amnesia in American foreign policy.

About the SCU Schoolof Law

The SCU School of Law, founded in 1912, combines a tradition of excellence with a commitment to ethics, diversity, and social justice, and is fully accredited by the American Bar Association. Many of its 974 students work in criminal and civil community law clinics, and may earn certificates in intellectual property law, international law, or public interest law. Law degrees may be combined with MBA or master’s in taxation degrees, and the law school offers lawyers master’s degrees in international law and intellectual property law.

About Santa Clara University

Santa Clara University, a comprehensive Jesuit, Catholic university located in California’s Silicon Valley, offers its 8,397 students rigorous undergraduate curricula in arts and sciences, business, and engineering, plus master’s and law degrees. Distinguished nationally by the third-highest graduation rate among all U.S. master’s universities, California’s oldest higher-education institution demonstrates faith-inspired values of ethics and social justice. More information is online at



<p>Samantha Power addresses SCU law graduates.</p>

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