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Alumnus Blake Sercye, Class of 2004, to Address the Class of 2018 at 87th Commencement Exercises

‘West Side guy’ went on to the Ivy League and University of Chicago Law School; lives in his home neighborhood of Austin and is active in the community.

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Sercye, a litigator at Jenner & Block in Chicago, is active in several civic and community organizations.

Fenwick alumnus Blake Sercye, a member of the Class of 2004, will address members of the current graduating Class of 2018 at the private high school’s 87th commencement exercises on May 25th at the UIC Forum (tickets are required). Mr. Sercye, a litigator at the Jenner & Block law firm in Chicago, was born and raised in the city’s Austin neighborhood on the West Side; he presently resides in a 121-year-old, Queen Anne house (1897) in Austin Village.

Sercye received his A.B. in politics with honors from Princeton University in New Jersey and earned his J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School, where he was a member of The University of Chicago Legal Forum and the Black Law Students Association. His message to his fellow Fenwick Friars will be two-pronged:

  • “I want to offer graduates guidance to succeed in college and beyond -- from lessons I’ve learned, in some instances, the hard way,” says Sercye, whose legal practice focuses on white-collar defense and investigations, corporate anti-corruption compliance and complex commercial litigation.
     
  • “I also will challenge the graduates to opt for love over hate or bias, even when doing so is most difficult,” he adds.

“As part opting to love, I’ll ask the students to determine how they might be able to give back to Fenwick in order to continue to help the school’s growth,” Sercye notes. As a student at Fenwick, he was a Kairos retreat leader, a member of the History Club and a State Debate winner, according to Mr. Richard Borsch, Associate Principal and long-time Director of Student Services. He also played in the band and sang in the Genesis Gospel Choir.

“Athletically speaking, Blake has an interesting story,” shares Fenwick Principal Peter Groom. “He got cut from the basketball as a freshman, then played JV hockey.” History Teacher Gerald Lordan, PhD, recalls that Sercye also played some football and participated in track and field.

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2004 Fenwick Blackfriars Yearbook photo.

As an incoming senior (above) under the tutelage of Speech Teacher Andy Arellano, Seryce won $5,000 as the national champion of the Sons of the American Revolution (SAR) Oration Contest. There have been only three winners from the State of Illinois in the award’s 44-year history. “Blake set the precedent,” says speech teacher Andy Arellano. Since 2003 Fenwick has had one other national champ (Phil Cozzi ’13), three students finish second, and one finish third at the SAR national competition.

“Fifteen years ago the Illinois chapter of SAR was not sponsoring the contest, but the national organization allowed our students to hold a competition here,” explains Mr. Arellano, who then was in his 31st year of teaching at Fenwick. “Blake won and was declared the ‘state champion,’ advancing on to the national contest in July. In typical Blake fashion, during his introduction he urged the organizers to consider running a state contest in Illinois. He said that, like him, there were other young speakers who could bring honor to our state.”

Professional and Community Service

At Jenner & Block, LLP Sercye counsels clients regarding anti-corruption training programs, corporate compliance protocol drafting, responding to government subpoenas and inquiries, and fact discovery in internal investigations and litigation. He also maintains an active pro bono practice that includes fair-housing litigation, prisoners' rights litigation and criminal defense. Prior to joining Jenner & Block, LLP, Sercye handled family law and criminal records sealing and expungement matters as a Public Interest Law Initiative fellow at the Chicago Legal Clinic in the city’s Austin neighborhood.

Sercye is active in several civic and community organizations. He serves as chair of Chicago’s Zoning Board of Appeals, a body charged with reviewing land use issues that pertain to the Chicago Zoning Ordinance, including proposed variations from the zoning code, special uses that require review to determine compatibility with adjacent properties, and appeals of decisions made by the Zoning Administrator. Additionally, Sercye serves as president of the Illinois Medical District Commission, a land-use board governing the second-largest medical district in the country located on Chicago’s Near West Side. He also is a member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc.

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