BIRMINGHAM, Ala.-Anne B. Pope, federal co-chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission, urged graduates of Samford University's Cumberland School of Law to consider a career in public service.
"If it were up to me, everyone's road should, at one time or another, include public service," she said during commencement Saturday, May 21, at Samford. "It is one of the highest forms of service a person can do."
Pope, a 1986 Cumberland graduate, practiced law in Washington, D.C., for several years before changing careers. She was head of the Tennessee Film and Music Commission, then commissioner of the state's Commerce and Insurance department before being appointed to her present position in 2002.
"It is hard to always be under public scrutiny, and the pay will probably not be as good," she said. "But I realized pretty quickly that I was having more fun than many of my classmates. For me, public service has been challenging, rewarding and most of the time, fun."
Pope stressed that the 158 law grads find the road best for them.
"Figure out the road you want to be on," she said. "If your own road leads you to practicing in a law firm or hanging out your own shingle, becoming a judge, corporate counsel, or law professor-then do it.
"Live life by a compass, not a watch," she urged.
Pope told the graduates that whatever course they take, their legal education at Cumberland will help them. "It was at Cumberland that I learned to analyze, separate the issues and get at the heart of the matter," she said. "In other words, at Cumberland I learned to think."
Her legal training also helped her operate "in fields where I have little experience," she added.
"Don't be afraid to take the road less traveled," Pope said in closing. "Be who you want to be, do the right thing and live the life you were meant to live."