Our son Seth attended his twentieth Harvard Kennedy School reunion last weekend. Since his mother worked there for a third of a century, she was particularly pleased that he decided to go.
On Friday afternoon, I dropped him off for the first reunion event. The next morning he reported a good turnout of his class of ’97. Because I had helped many of them plan their futures, I was eager for updates. What I didn’t expect was that some of them would “demand” that I make an appearance at the reunion the next day.
So I did.
Although it’s been almost four years since I retired, returning to school still feels like going home to me. When I walked into the classroom in which his graduating class had gathered for lunch, his classmates treated me like a rock star. It was thrilling to hear about the accomplishments of these now middle-aged “kids” who twenty years earlier had committed to careers in public service.
I didn’t stay long because they were there to see each other, not me. But I did drop by another group that had graduated thirty years ago and that I had been especially close to. When I joined them, they were going around the room taking turns talking to their classmates about what they had done since they graduated. Before she talked about what she had done to introduce herself, the next person noted that Judy Kugel had just walked into the room. Everyone turned around and I saw a sea of smiles.
I didn’t stay long there either. As I made my way out, I was overcome with emotion because so many of “my” students who graduated committed to make the world a better place had done so. I am so proud to have played a small role in their success.