On Sept. 11, the School of Law community lost a dear friend, Diana Hamilton ’06. Diana was honored on Nov. 2 with the Alumna Achievement Award presented posthumously by Dr. Artika Tyner ’06 to Diana’s parents, LaVonne and Luches Hamilton, and her sister, Kristi, to recognize Diana’s achievements.
Here are Tyner’s remarks:
Today we celebrate the leadership legacy of Diana Hamilton who dedicated her life to serving others. I am deeply humbled to share with you today about the leadership lessons that I learned from my friend and classmate, Ms. Diana Hamilton.
Diana’s life work exemplified the qualities of a servant leader. A servant leader is one who uses his/her influence to serve the needs of others. As a lawyer, Diana was committed to service in the community and serving as a voice for the voiceless, which is the foundation of living our law school’s mission. Each day, she was able to breathe life into our mission by promoting social justice and serving as an advocate for children’s rights. She committed her life’s work to standing up for children.
I would like to share four leadership lessons that I learned from Diana about service and leading.
Develop a vision for justice. From the first day that I met Diana, her vision was readily apparent. She introduced herself and quickly transitioned into her dream of becoming a lawyer for children. She worked diligently to make this vision a reality. She took every family law class (from adoption law to family law clinic) that our school had to offer (and might I add, excelled in each course). She also developed mentorship relationships with family law attorneys and volunteered at local family service agencies.
Have the tenacity to pursue your dreams. A vision is limited unless you have the tenacity to pursue your dreams. This tenacity for Diana was deeply rooted in her faith. If faith the size of a mustard seed can move mountains, Diana’s faith could change the world. She had the faith to believe that women and children could no longer be kept last in our society but instead that marginalized groups would be able to realize “equal justice under the law.” Her faith served as a sustaining force and inspired others to seek justice. Her unwavering faith demonstrated that no mountain could stand in her way. This is evidenced by the legislation she worked years to bring to fruition. In 2013, the Family Reunification Act was passed, which will aid in helping to keep families united and strong.
Have a commitment to service. For some, service is a part of their lives (whether it be pro bono service or service in the community) but for Diana, service was a way of life. Marian Wright Edelman wisely stated: “Service is the rent we pay to be living. It is the very purpose of life and not something you do in your spare time.” Diana paid her rent in full by: volunteering at her father’s church in the youth ministry, serving as a champion for justice as an attorney at the Youth Law Project, and leading in the Children’s Law Section of the State Bar.
Invest in others. Diana had an infectious laugh and warming smile. She made each person who she came in contact with feel loved and cherished. She served as a mentor to countless young people. She also was an active supporter of our work in the Office of Diversity by promoting learning opportunities for students from diverse backgrounds and first-generation college students.
These four leadership lessons can be summarized in one statement: Live with a purpose. Diana asked me in one of our final conversations: “Have you lived?” My response was: “Of course.” I began to reflect on our fun times together: Like “remember when we had traveled to Mexico together (she even convinced me to ride a horse for the first time), or when we cried during every chick-flick, or better yet when we enjoyed fine dining experiences together (as fellow foodies)?” She didn’t respond because I was engaging in the typical lawyer deflection strategy by filling the empty space between our words with random statements of fact. But we both knew what she truly meant – “Had I lived out my life’s purpose?” I did not have an answer for her in that moment.
She reminded me that we could not truly live until we find: 1) our purpose/call, 2) stir our faith to pursue our call with all of our might, 3) give our lives serving others, and 4) empower someone else to lead.
Today, I can say that Diana taught me how to live. These leadership lessons will guide me throughout my lifetime. So I leave you with a challenge to ask yourself: Have you lived?
I now have the privilege of honoring Diana Hamilton (class of 2006) with the 2013 Alumna Achievement Award. Please join me in celebrating Diana’s leadership and service to the community. It is truly an honor to present the Alumna Achievement Award to Diana Hamilton’s family: Pastor Hamilton, Mrs. Hamilton, and Kristi Hamilton in loving memory of Diana’s legacy of servant leadership.