[CUA Office of Public Affairs]                                                                        

Contact: Frank Grosso


May 21, 2001


New Mexico Chief Justice to Address CUA's Columbus School of Law Graduates

Patricio M. Serna, chief justice of the New Mexico Supreme Court, will address graduates and guests at The Catholic University of America’s Columbus School of Law commencement, to be held at 2 p.m., Saturday, May 26, at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

Approximately 275 students will receive Juris Doctor degrees.

Serna became the nation’s only Latino chief justice when he was named to the post on Jan. 5, 2001.  Prior to his election to New Mexico's highest court in 1996, he served as a district judge for 11 years, the last two as chief judge.

Serna also has served as assistant attorney general of New Mexico, special assistant to Commissioner Raymond Telles of the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and adjunct professor at the Columbus School of Law.

The justice’s rise to his native state’s highest position of judicial authority embodies the realization of the “American Dream.” He was not yet two years old when his mother died, leaving behind eight children for his father to raise. A laborer with a third-grade education, Serna’s father raised the children in a three-room log cabin in Reserve, N.M. During most of Serna’s childhood, the house had no plumbing or electricity.

Without the encouragement of a local priest, Serna would not have attended college. The priest made arrangements for him to attend the College of Saint Joseph (now the University of Albuquerque), where he was offered a scholarship, a job and a cot in a boiler room. Serna received his undergraduate degree and eventually went on to receive his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Denver College of Law and a Master of Laws degree from Harvard Law School.

During the Columbus School of Law commencement ceremony, Serna will be presented with Catholic University’s highest award, the President's Medal. The honor recognizes those people who, by the content of their character and the witness of their lives, share the vision and exemplify the ideals of the university.

Founded in 1897, Catholic University's law school is accredited by the American Bar Association and is a member of the Association of American Law Schools. The school is a pioneer in clinical education and is distinguished for offering one of the nation’s broadest ranges of clinical experiences to students. Additionally, the law school is widely recognized for special programs in communications law, law and public policy, law and religion, and comparative and international law.





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Revised: May 21, 2001

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The Catholic University of America,
Office of Public Affairs.