Home Law School News Pioneering Alumna Delivers Law School Commencement Address

Pioneering Alumna Delivers Law School Commencement Address

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Romonda D. Belcher, LW’95

Romonda D. Belcher, LW’95, has long been known in the Des Moines area for her on-stage portrayal of civil rights figures such as Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth. And in September, Belcher joined the ranks of these pioneering women when she became the first female African-American judge appointed to serve in the state of Iowa.

Belcher returned to Drake on May 13 when she served as the keynote speaker at Law School Commencement ceremonies and delivered a speech titled “Having IT, Defined.”

Her address explored what “it” is and what “it” is not. For example, Belcher said “it” consists of the attributes that really matter, such as “justice, honor, selflessness and patience,” rather than less important things such as “class rank, income, what you have, where you live and so on.”

As a student at Drake Law School, Belcher gained professional experience through the Neil and Bea Smith Legal Clinic and a clerkship with Iowa Supreme Court Justice and Drake alumnus Louis Lavorato, LA’72, LW’75. She also served as an intern with the Polk County attorney’s office and the Parrish Kruidenier Law Firm.

“Drake Law School is a phenomenal law school,” says Belcher. “I received the practical training I needed to succeed, and it was easy to transition to the practice of law.”

Prior to her appointment as a Polk County District Associate Judge in Iowa’s fifth-district, Belcher worked for 15 years as an attorney with Polk County and the Department of Human Services. She has served as mediator for the Volunteer Lawyers Project and as Project Coordinator for the Iowa National Bar Association’s “A Monumental Journey” public art project.

“Since her first days at Drake, Romonda stood out in my mind as a hardworking, focused, principled person who had backbone, courage and grace,” says David Walker, former dean of the Drake Law School. “I knew from the get-go she wanted to be a judge someday, which isn’t a few short steps from the commencement podium.”