Campus & Community / Magazine Feature

Anyone’s life can change in the blink of an eye, law Commencement speaker says

law grads

Graduates wait in line to recieve their diplomas at DU's law Commencement ceremony on May 22.

The University of Denver’s law Commencement speakers often offer words of advice: work hard, dream big, stay true to your ethics. But as the Sturm College of Law class of 2010 prepared to graduate on May 22, one classmate offered them something even bigger: a lesson in living life itself.

Frank Bingham — selected by his classmates as the student speaker — graduated against all odds after overcoming a tragedy so great few could imagine it. During his first year of law school in November 2006, a drunk driver crashed into him and his family as they crossed a downtown Denver street. Only Bingham survived. He lost his wife, Becca, and their two children, Macie, 4, and Garrison, 2.

Standing on the stage before his class, Bingham said the most important thing is to remember how interconnected everyone is and how to appreciate small things.

“I started law school as a husband and father, but before the end of my first semester, Becca and Macie and Garrison were gone in an instant,” he told the hushed audience at DU’s Magness arena. “The bottom line is life is uncertain and anyone’s life can change in the blink of an eye.”

Bingham said times are uncertain for new lawyers seeking a fruitful career. Law firms are cutting back. Jobs may be scarce. Things won’t be easy.

But he said everyone — no matter their circumstance — can connect with someone in need and be valued. He talked about how strangers reached out to him after the tragedy and helped him move on. He warned his fellow graduates not to let career ambitions define their lives or steal time from loved ones.

“While the law can truly be a jealous mistress,” he said, “don’t let it be your only love … You truly never know when words spoken to a loved one or the time spent with a friend or the touch of a child will be your last.”

The graduating class of about 375 wore white ribbons on their graduation gowns in support of Bingham and in remembrance of his family.

Before delivering his Commencement address, Gov. Bill Ritter remarked on Bingham’s strength and eloquence. He then exhorted the new graduates to remain strong in their own belief in the law and the path they have chosen.

The fate of the American legal system, and of justice itself, is in the hands of everyone who chooses law as a career, Ritter said.

“It will be incumbent upon you to breathe life into our justice system,” he said. “Assume your role as stewards, but I implore you, handle with care.”

For Ritter’s lifetime of service as a prosecutor, a Colorado governor and a missionary in Africa, the University conferred upon him an honorary doctor of laws degree.

Bingham, proving again how resilient the human spirit can be, announced to the class that after years of grieving and learning to move on, he is again engaged to be married.

“Hope, faith, forgiveness and love can survive even the worst that life can throw at us,” he said.

A memorial scholarship fund supports Sturm College of Law students embarking on careers that include child advocacy, education and animal rights. And Bingham is accepting donations for a giant kinetic sculpture that will beautify a park near the site of the tragedy that took his family.

Comments are closed.