A Hero's Address

Villanova Commencement 2012

James J. (J.J.) Williamson VLS ’12, a Bronze Medal recipient and former Green Beret, was chosen by his classmates as the student speaker for the Villanova University School of Law’s 2012 Commencement ceremony on May 18. An exceptional student graduating magna cum laude, Williamson served as the Editor-in-Chief of Volume 57 of the Villanova Law Review.

In his Commencement speech, Williamson urged his fellow graduates to look back on their journey with pride and look toward their future with passion. Addressing the Class of 2012, the first to have spent all three years in the new law school building, he remarked, “While our time in law school may be coming to an end, our journey as a class continues.  And this evening, while we can all share stories from the past three years, and reflect upon the people we have become, what will truly define us is not what we did while we were in the new building, but what we will do now that we are out of it.  With all we’ve been able to accomplish in 33 short months, the future looks bright.”

Williamson has been closely tied to Villanova University since childhood, growing up as a member of the St. Thomas of Villanova parish. He served for several years as an altar boy, often at the side of current Villanova University President the Rev. Peter M. Donohue, OSA, PhD, ’75 A&S. Williamson attended Archbishop John Carroll High School before gaining admittance to the prestigious United States Military Academy in West Point, NY.

Williamson was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army upon graduation from West Point in 2001, serving in Baghdad and Fallujah, Iraq (2004-2005) as a platoon leader, battery executive officer and assistant battalion operations officer for 3-82 Field Artillery, 1st Cavalry Division.  He was selected to attend the Special Forces Qualification Course after returning to the United States at the completion of his deployment, and in 2006 was awarded the Green Beret.  As a Captain, Williamson served as a Special Forces Detachment Commander in Afghanistan (2007-2008) for Operational Detachment-Alpha (ODA) 3214, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne).  Following his deployment, he served as a company executive officer and a battalion assistant operations officer for 2nd Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne). Williamson left the Army in 2009 at the rank of Captain, after eight years of distinguished service.             

A highly decorated veteran, Williamson’s awards include the Bronze Star Medal for Valor, the Bronze Star for Service (2 OLC), the Meritorious Service Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, the Iraq and Afghanistan Campaign Medals, the NATO Medal, the National Defense Service Medal and the Army Service Ribbon.

Following graduation from Villanova University School of Law, Williamson will serve as a judicial clerk to Judge William Yohn, Jr., of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, and afterwards will join the law firm of Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP.