Alumni, trustees, and faculty members gathered at The American Center for Arts and Sciences in Cambridge on March 2 for an evening to celebrate Congressman Joseph P. Kennedy III ’99, the winner of the school’s 2017 Distinguished Young Alumni/ae Award.
A graduate of Stanford University and Harvard Law School, Rep. Kennedy currently serves as a United States Representative for Massachusetts’ 4th congressional district. Before joining the House of Representatives, the congressman worked as a district attorney and also served in the Peace Corps in the Dominican Republic. Currently, he advocates for mental health reform, STEM education, transgender rights, and immigration reform.
Since 1993, the Distinguished Alumni/ae Awards Committee, now chaired by Todd Harrison ’77 P’13, ’17, is comprised of alumni and other members of the school community selected by the Director of Alumni/ae Programs. The committee nominates candidates under the age of 40 who possess a depth of experience in their field and represent the school’s motto.
The committee has not presented this award since 2014 because in the past, the award was given every two or three years. However, the school now plans to present the award every year and do a better job of honoring the successes of alumni in the future, Board of Trustees Chair Brace Young Jr. P’14, ’14, ’17 said.
The event began at 7 p.m. with Mr. Young, Jr. welcoming approximately 50 attendees before a sit-down dinner was served. After dinner, Head of School Rebecca Upham delivered remarks about why the Congressman was a great choice to receive the award, recalling his commitment to government, his work for the community, and his dedication to the school. Then she and Mr. Harrison presented Congressman Kennedy with a framed plaque citing Congressman Kennedy for “his outstanding professional achievements, his service to his country, and his active demonstration of the values that characterize a BB&N graduate.”
After accepting the award, Congressman Kennedy thanked Ms. Upham and the committee for the honor and described how his teachers and other alumni in the school network helped him achieve his success.
Congressman Kennedy cited Former US Science Teacher Bob O’Brien as a favorite teacher and mentor at the school, and he acknowledged Jason Hafler ’00—a football and hockey teammate—who “persevered alongside him at a time when the athletics programs were not as strong as they currently are.” He also recognized Former Board of Trustees Chair Peter Slavin ’76 P’06, ’11, who supported the congressman during his first Congressional campaign.
“Congressman Kennedy’s public service record early in his career was a decisive factor in his nomination and selection,” Director of Alumni/ae Programs Cecily Craighill said. “The Boston Globe and other media outlets have noted that he will most likely continue to establish himself as a strong and thoughtful voice and policy champion in national politics and elected office.” Mr. Young, Jr. also commended Congressman Kennedy’s contributions as a state representative: “To be this influential as a congressman at such a young age is very impressive. Joe is an advocate for women’s rights, Planned Parenthood, and the LGBTQ community, which are a lot of issues that BB&N stands for and the BB&N community cares about.”