WMU-Cooley’s Grand Rapids Campus Holds Virtual Honors Convocation

On Friday, July 16, WMU-Cooley Law School’s Grand Rapids campus honored students during this term’s honors convocation.

Before the presentation of awards, two alumni from WMU-Cooley’s Grand Rapids campus inaugural class, Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Smith and Joanna Smith, spoke. While addressing the students, the Smiths spoke about their experiences at WMU-Cooley, including what it was like to be part of the first incoming class at the Grand Rapids campus.

Joanna Smith is senior court counsel to the Twelfth Judicial Circuit Court, servicing Manatee, Sarasota, and Desoto counties in Florida. Thomas Smith serves as a military judge for the Air Force Trial Judiciary, Central Circuit, Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas. In this capacity, he serves as a trial judge at general and special courts-martial worldwide.       

“We were so blessed to have been part of the first class at the Grand Rapids campus.  We fondly remember stocking books on shelves in the law library, starting the SBA, and having the best professors and administrative team Cooley could offer,” said Joanna Smith.

Thomas Smith spoke about proudly displaying his large Cooley diploma. “Cooley provides an excellent legal education.  I’ve never looked back on my career and had a moment where I’ve thought law school didn’t prepare me for, whether it was the bar exam or something I encountered during my career. Be proud of your school, and be the reason that others can be proud of your school.”

During the convocation, the Leadership Achievement Award was presented to Sarvpal Dhillon, Paul Krygsman, and Viktoria Lissner. The Leadership Achievement Award acknowledges those students who have consistently, comprehensively, and effectively provided leadership in a variety of capacities. The award is intended to be the culmination of the recipients’ participation in leadership activities at WMU-Cooley.

Madison Mazer was presented with the Alumni Association Distinguished Student Award. The award is given to selected graduating students based on academic accomplishment, demonstrated leadership, meaningful extracurricular activities and post-graduation plans.

Dhillon, who is originally from Des Plaines, Illinois, graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.  While at WMU-Cooley Law School he served as treasurer of the Mock Trial Board, and a general member of both the West Michigan Student Bar Association and the Phi Delta Phi International Legal Honors Society.

Originally from Calgary, Alberta, Canada, Krygsman earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Dordt College. He served as parliamentarian for the West Michigan Student Bar Association as well as chair for rules committee. In addition, he worked as a teaching assistant for Professor Devin Schindler’s Constitutional Law I and II classes.

Lissner, from Grand Rapids, Michigan, earned her Bachelor of Science degree from Grand Valley State University. While at WMU-Cooley Law School, she served as an interim solicitation editor for the Law Review, and events coordinator for the West Michigan Student Bar Association. In addition, she held several roles for the Organization of Women Law Students, including vice president, events coordinator, and fundraising chair.

Jul 20 2021

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Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School is an independent, private, non-profit educational institution affiliated with Western Michigan University. The affiliation between WMU and WMU-Cooley, which are legally and financially independent institutions, will end on or before November 5, 2023. As an independent institution, the Law School is solely responsible for its academic program. Accredited by the American Bar Association and the Higher Learning Commission. 

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