Laughter filled Holmes Field outside Langdell Hall as comedian Mindy Kaling and U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara ’90 addressed Law School graduates at the school’s annual Class Day ceremonies on Wednesday afternoon. Law School Dean Martha L. Minow also presented awards to students for community service work, pro bono legal services, and leadership.
Bharara drew laughs from crowd after calling Kaling and himself “two Indian-Americans for the price of one” and noting that he ended Tuesday evening by “sipping a scorpion bowl at the Kong,” referring to the Hong Kong restaurant in Harvard Square.
As U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, Bharara has made a career of prosecuting white collar crime on Wall Street and, most notably, prosecuting attempted Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad.
“I hope you’ve gotten to know your Business School colleagues, because they are your future clients,” Bharara said, after joking about handing out subpoenas earlier in the day to students at the Business School.
Yet Bharara also conveyed a serious message to graduates, using a baseball analogy to call on them to focus on “being good before trying to be great.”
“There is a tendency for people like you, who are so successful and so accomplished and so credentialed, to think that every endeavor is like a baseball game where you’re going to go out and pitch a perfect game, but that’s not the case,” he said, urging graduates to take life on “one pitch at a time.”
Kaling, most famous for her role in the hit television sitcom, “The Office,” called herself “just a pretty Hollywood starlet.”
“To be honest, I don’t know much about the law…. I have no idea why I’m here today,” she said.
Kaling drew laughs after describing Dartmouth College, her alma mater, as a place “where, when you arrive, you’re given moonshine and a box of fireworks and told to quote, ‘go to town.’”
After trying to interpret the Law School’s crest and teasingly lauding graduates for taking on the “noblest of pursuits” like defending “British Petroleum against birds,” Kaling earnestly asked students to continue to create the kind of fairness that she said allowed her and her family to immigrate to and succeed in the United States.
“[In the U.S.], you can aspire and succeed,” she said. “That fairness...is, in part, resting on your shoulders to uphold.”
Graduating students and their family members said they enjoyed the speakers, despite the dreary weather.
“I think both speakers were pretty amazing,” Jamie A. Niskanen-Singer said. “They definitely exceeded already high expectations—Mindy Kaling was particularly funny.”
With weather forecasts looking more promising for tomorrow’s Commencement exercises, families said that they are optimistic about the festivities to come.
“I’m excited for [Commencement],” Travis D. Miscia, as he stood next to his father. “And the weather is supposed to be better.”
Commencement ceremonies for those graduating from the Law School, as well as from other schools at Harvard, will be held at Tercentenary Theater on Thursday morning.
—Staff writer Tyler S. Olkowski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @OlkowskiTyler.