Manhattan District Attorney Alvin L. Bragg, Jr., a ’95 graduate of Harvard College and a ’99 graduate of Harvard Law School, today congratulated Harvard University’s graduating class of 2023 and highlighted the importance of public service and volunteerism in a Harvard Crimson op-ed.
D.A. Bragg writes that growing up, he was impacted by the work of his mother, who was an educator, and his father, who ran homeless shelters: “I saw the fruits of my parents’ service in the faces of people whose lives they improved in ways big and small.”
At Harvard, D.A. Bragg said he “incorporated service into my life there, volunteering as a teacher and mentor through the Phillips Brooks House Association” – work that has continued to this day through his volunteer work as a Sunday school teacher at his church.
These experiences shaped how he views his own career in public service, as he writes, “In many ways, I have achieved in my career in the traditional sense of the word. But achievement isn’t the most important throughline in my career. The connecting thread, as I see it, is using different areas of the law to address power asymmetries.”
He reminds students that, “There is a tendency to think of success in terms of degrees, professional accomplishments, and job titles. But success is also measured in services to those without the same privilege you enjoy as Harvard alumni.” Graduates should not just advance their careers but measure their success in “what you do for others — students taught, victims counseled, patients healed.”
He ends by reflecting on his parents again, saying, “When I was a kid, I don’t think I knew where my parents went to college. I may not have known their exact job titles. But I saw their resumes of accomplishments in the people who stopped us on the street to offer thanks.”
Read the full op-ed here.