When Megyn Kelly first landed at a law firm in New York City, a Capital Region transplant with an Albany Law School degree in her pocket, she called her mom three straight nights in tears.
The first two nights her mom offered words of comfort, tips for settling in and making her apartment homier.
But on the third night, the young lawyer – now anchor of a prime-time Fox News show – received a different kind of advice all together.
“She said: ‘Megyn, stop playing the victim, it’s not attractive,’ ” Kelly recalled as she addressed the 2016 Albany Law graduating class at its Friday morning commencement. “And you know what, that helped me at least as much as the soothing words. . . . Tough talk can be a true gift.”
And Kelly offered the graduates a few tidbits of tough talk of her own. “Life is a competitive sport,” she said. “And so is lawyering. You have to be OK throwing, and sometimes receiving, a sharp elbow to get ahead.”
She also provided encouragement to the graduates; she knows what it has taken for them to get to that day, and that is no small accomplishment, she said.
“You have no idea how talented you’ve just become,” she told the graduates.
The school celebrated over 150 graduates Friday. The class, when they started as first-years, had students ranging in age from 20 to their 50s, who spoke seven languages and came as “philosophers, military veterans, caregivers, parents,” and more.
“You now go off to start careers in pretty much every area of the law,” Albany Law President and Dean Alicia Ouellette said.
Introducing Kelly, Ouellette spelled out the 1995 graduate’s success in school and in her early legal career as a litigator in Chicago and New York City. While at Albany Law, she participated on moot court and won a trial competition.
“She was no slacker, and to put the rest of us to shame she also taught aerobics,” Ouellette said.
Kelly said that even though she didn’t know the graduates personally she knew the skills they had acquired would carry them forward in their lives — if they continued to work hard. She made just one glancing reference to Donald Trump, the presidential candidate she has sparred with throughout this election season, telling the graduates not to let adversity knock them down.
But the law school education alone won’t be enough to lead the students to success, she said. She told the students to not waste time worrying about the “up-and-comers or down-the-hallers” and instead invest that energy into their own work.
“I’ve been amazed to see how many people are not inclined to do the hard work it takes to succeed,” Kelly said. “You’ve got to work.” As she left the podium, Kelly slipped in one final piece of advice: “Give ’em hell.”
Reach Gazette reporter Zachary Matson at 395-3120, [email protected] or @zacharydmatson on Twitter.
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