2018 Commencement Ceremony & Reception
- Ceremony: 10 a.m. Friday, May 11, Georgia State Sports Arena, 125 Decatur St., Atlanta, GA 30303
- Reception: Noon-2 p.m. Friday, May 11, College of Law, 85 Park Place NE, Atlanta, GA 30303
Attorney General of Colorado Cynthia H. Coffman (J.D. ’91) will deliver the address at Georgia State University College of Law’s Commencement and Hooding Ceremony at 10 a.m., Friday, May 11, in the Georgia State University Sports Arena, 125 Decatur St. The graduating class of 183 J.D. and 18 LL.M. students chose Thomas Michael “Mike” Hodell (J.D. ’18) as the student speaker.
“I am incredibly honored to have been asked to speak at graduation,” Coffman said. “The education I received at Georgia State University College of Law provided me with a launching pad that took my legal career further than I ever imagined when I crossed the stage at my own graduation.”
Coffman, who ran for the Republican gubernatorial nomination in Colorado, graduated from the University of Missouri–Columbia before moving to Atlanta in 1985. She worked in development for children’s hospitals and pediatric research for several years before earning her law degree at Georgia State Law.
After graduation, Coffman worked in the Georgia Attorney General’s office, defending the state’s juvenile justice system and Public Health Department. That led to an opportunity to work as a lawyer in finance and management services for the 1996 Centennial Olympic games. After the pipe bomb explosion in Olympic Park, her work there shifted to acting as the primary liaison for the victims and their families.
“My time at Georgia State instilled in me the value of service, and I hope to share with the graduates how service not only shapes strong lawyers, it forms active and engaged community members who can make a lasting impact,” she said.
In 1997, Coffman moved to Denver and began working for the Colorado General Assembly’s Office of Legislative Council. In 2004, Coffman was chief counsel to then Gov. Bill Owens. In 2005, Attorney General John Suthers selected her as chief deputy. When Suthers finished his term limit, Coffman, who was named Best Public Sector Lawyer in 2012, ran for attorney general. She was elected in 2014.
In his speech, Hodell (J.D. ’18) wants to impart what it has meant to him personally to attend Georgia State Law and embark on what he calls “my third career.”
A former engineer, Hodell worked in the aerospace industry in the 1990s with manufacturer/defense contractor McDonnell Douglas in California, and later with Lockheed-Martin in Georgia. After seven years, he ventured into a new career in financial services. When his two children finished high school, he decided to apply to law school.
“It has been a gift, this opportunity to go back to school,” he said. “It’s never too late to do the thing you want to do, if you really want to do it.”
“Mike is a nontraditional student who has excelled in diverse areas during law school,” said Kelly Cahill Timmons, associate dean for student affairs and associate professor of law. “On Honors Day, Mike received both the Georgia Chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers Custer-Tuggle Award for Excellence in Family Law and the Urban Fellows Research Award, along with an Award for Excellence in Lawyering Advocacy. You might not expect a law student to set the standard in both family law and issues connected to urban growth, but that is one of many reasons we are proud to have Mike as a student.”
A reception at 85 Park Place will follow the Commencement and Hooding Ceremony from noon to 2 p.m. Graduates will be able to return their regalia and provide tours of the college for families and friends.