Academics and Research / Magazine Feature

Law alumna argues for Commencement singing gig, wins case

Last year, Amy Weichel (JD ’08) sat quietly through her graduation from the Sturm College of Law. This year, she’ll be heard loud and clear by everyone in attendance.

Weichel (pronounced WHY-kl) has eased into her law career with some part-time work. But she’s coming back to DU on May 16 to share her other passion, singing. Weichel will open the graduation ceremonies by singing the National Anthem.

About 280 graduates and thousands of their friends and families will pack the Richie Center for the 10 a.m. ceremony. Colorado State House Speaker Terrance Carroll (JD ’05) will give the Commencement address.

“Growing up, I never wanted to be a lawyer. I wanted to be a singer,” Weichel says. “That never worked out, but I still love to sing.”

Although she toured for a year with the internationally known performing group Up With People in the 1990s, Weichel never focused on a singing career. Instead, she traveled the world and took odd jobs, from teaching English in Japan to waiting tables in Hawaii. She finally settled down in Denver after a friend went to DU for law school. After sitting in on some courses, she fell in love with the place.

“DU was the only place I applied,” she says. “I even got a job at the reception desk in the Student Law Office (SLO) to show them I was really serious about DU.”

She focused on her studies, labored in the criminal justice section of the SLO as a student, and prepared for a career in the court room. She says the work she did at the clinic and her contact with instructors Wadine Gehrke, David Schott and Howard Rosenberg really fed her commitment to help low income people navigate the criminal courts system.

It wasn’t until last year when she heard a performer struggling with the National Anthem at an event that she remembered her love of singing and she realized she could do better. She decided to offer her talents to DU, and after a tryout, she got the gig.

“I’ve sung in front of thousands of people, and that’s different. Trying out in front of just a few people was very scary. I was really nervous,” she says. “I’m really excited. I sing the Anthem straight forward, the way it’s written.”

After some delays dictated by the state budget shortfall, Weichel starts her first full-time job as an attorney at age 37. She starts work at the Office of the Public Defender on June 1. Her first trial is scheduled for June 2.

For more information about Commencement or to watch streaming video of the ceremony, please visit DU’s commencement Web site.

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