The last day of the Rappaport Fellowship. The closing celebration began at 5pm at the Harvard Kennedy School with a cocktail reception. All of the Rappaport Institute and Rappaport Center Fellows were there with their guests. In addition, dozens of distinguished members from the Rappaport Board of Directors and supervisors of the fellows were in attendance.
It was a truly wonderful evening. After cocktails we sat down at our tables for dinner and listened to the opening remarks. This is the seventeenth year of the Rappaport Fellows program. Through the incredible generosity of Jerry and Phyllis Rappaport, over 400 fellows have participated in the program. Many of the fellows have gone on to have influential careers in state and local government. Jerry and Phyllis Rappaport have created not only an incredible Rappaport alumni network, but they have also created a wonderful Rappaport family. Everyone in the room is committed to serving their communities and to doing their best to making the world a better place.
Before dinner was served, however, we all sang “Happy Birthday” to Jerry Rappaport who was celebrating his 90th birthday. Jerry Rappaport has had an incredible life of service in not only state and local government but also in the arts. He is a true role model of what it means to dedicate one’s life to bettering one’s community.
After wishing Jerry Rappaport a “Happy Birthday,” all 29 fellows, 17 from the Rappaport Institute and 12 from the Rappaport Center, gave short summaries of the work they had done throughout the summer. Although each of us were focused in a particular area, me with veteran’s benefits for example, together the 29 of us created a truly comprehensive tapestry of public service focused projects. I loved hearing about the other fellows’ work and I felt so lucky to have been a part of this incredible program.
After our speeches we sat down to dinner and conversation. Each table had at least one fellow. The rest of the seats were filled by people affiliated with the Rappaport fellowship. My wife and I had the honor of sitting with Jerry Rappaport along with a director of the Harvard Kennedy School, a former State Representative and political advisor, and a former US Attorney. To learn about their careers was another highlight of the evening.
After dinner, Jerry and Phyllis gave the closing remarks and reminded the fellows about the importance of public service and the incredible alumni network that we were now a part of. It was hard to believe that the fellowship had ended but I knew that the connections and friendships I had made this summer would last a lifetime.