Published on April 27, 2024 by Morgan Black  
Jenkins Law Commencement
Evan Jenkins, a 1987 graduate of Samford University Cumberland School of Law, addressed the class of 2024 during their commencement ceremony held April 27.
Jenkins has put his Cumberland School of Law education to work throughout his career through a unique blend of leadership positions, most notably in service to his home state of West Virginia. He has served as a state senator and congressman, as well as the chief justice of the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia. Now, Jenkins is the general counsel for Ramaco Resources.
Jenkins began by sharing a story from his first year at Cumberland School of Law and reflecting on how his education prepared him for his career. He said, “Cumberland was a great fit for me and the education I received has served me well. The relationships and contacts I formed during my time here have also been invaluable throughout my career.”
He then proceeded to share with the graduates three valuable career lessons. In summary, those lessons are:
  • Commit yourself to collaborate with others to create something truly special—something you couldn’t achieve alone;
  • Play your part in preserving and protecting the principles of our great country—a privilege we, as Americans, are so blessed to possess; and,
  • Never doubt the skills and abilities you possess to succeed in any endeavor you set your mind to.
He said, “The lessons I’ve gathered since receiving my acceptance letter 40 years ago have served me well. May they also become part of your life’s journey.”
After the address, the names of each graduate were read by Cumberland School of Law Associate Dean Jill Evans. The degrees were conferred and presented by Samford President Beck A. Taylor and Provost J. Michael Hardin.
Cumberland School of Law’s class of 2024 includes 153 new Juris Doctors who received their degrees from August 2023 through May 2024, 13 of which earned a joint degree. Three graduates earned the Master of Studies in Law.
During the ceremony, Cumberland School of Law Dean Blake Hudson presented the Daniel Austin Brewer Professionalism Award to Rolanda Tina Turner. The award, established by Alabama governor and former Cumberland School of Law professor Albert P. Brewer in honor of his father, is granted to a graduating student who best exemplifies the high standards of ethics and professionalism expected of members of the legal profession.
During her time in law school, not only was Turner a top student, she was also involved in numerous law school, statewide and national organizations including the American Bar Association, the Alabama State Bar, Cumberland School of Law’s National Mediation Team, Cumberland Society of the Arts, Cumberland Health & Wellness Society, the Career Development Advisory Board, the Center for Children, Law & Ethics, and AccessLex. Additional volunteer roles and her internships and externships throughout law school have primed her to receive this award.
In reflecting on her journey through law school she said, “My journey at Cumberland School of Law has been unprecedented! As a first-generation law student, I knew the path ahead would be challenging. However, thanks to the supportive, kind and encouraging community at Cumberland, I have grown into a strong, capable and passionate individual. Throughout my time here, I have been blessed with amazing opportunities, friendships, mentorships, scholarships, and so much more. When I reflect on my experience, there is nothing I would change. I hope to return to Cumberland one day and impact someone's life in the same way that professors, deans, administrative staff, alumni, and others have impacted mine. Cumberland has shaped me in ways that simply can't be put on paper, and for that, I am eternally grateful.”
Jacari Holt, who served as the third-year class president, made brief remarks to conclude the ceremony. Holt commended the class for their perseverance saying, “we have come a long way” and “we made it through it all together.” Giving a nod to the Cumberland family and the special bond the class has, he said, “I’m proud to be a part of this class. I encourage us to continue growing, stay engaged, and stay rooted in community; we all need someone to carry us through the valleys of life.”
Prior to closing, Holt recognized the Cumberland School of Law faculty and staff, especially Judge Brad Bishop and Dean Corky Strickland. The class was the last Bishop taught after serving 45 years on the faculty and Strickland was the dean of the law school when they began.
Prior to the ceremony, a reception was held at Brewer Plaza for the graduates and their guests.
Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.