The First Resnek to Graduate from Harvard

Last month, my son Joseph Resnek graduated with honors from Harvard College.

For me, for his mother and his brother and for everyone in my family, it was a moment to savor and to enjoy because graduating from Harvard has so many positive connotations.

The Resnek’s have been in Chelsea since 1885. No one with the last name Resnek for four generations has failed to receive at least one college degree. And Resnek’s have attended Ivy League schools like Wellesley, Radcliffe, and Brown.

Joe is the first Resnek to graduate from Harvard.

It was something to note – and after a month has passed – I wanted write a few thoughts about it.

Joe Resnek, it will be noted for the rest of his life, was born in Boston and brought up in Chelsea. He attended Chelsea Public Schools and is a Chelsea High School graduate.

During a lifetime spent here he showed himself to be a loyal friend, a bright kid and a great baseball player.

At Chelsea High School he excelled on the stage, playing the attorney Atticus Finch (with a Massachusetts accent) in the award winning play, To Kill A Mockingbird. In the play, Finch stands up for the rights of a black man wrongly accused of raping a white woman.

In that play Joe showed a proficiency to perform in public, to memorize lines

So it did not come as a surprise that Joe at Harvard came to be the President of the Harvard Mock Trial Team and was considered by his peers across the nation as the single best “lawyer” in the mock trial circuit.

He also became the chief justice, if you can imagine anyone 21 being the chief justice of anything, of the Harvard Model Congress. With that organization, he got to travel a good part of the world. He visited Singapore, North Vietnam, Cambodia, Belgium and France and organized and oversaw the various Harvard Model Congress meetings that took place in those nations and in Cambridge as well.

Joe graduated near to the top of his class at CHS but when he got to Harvard he had to hustle – and hustle he did. He came to master nearly every course he took and in nearly every course he took, he came out on top.

When he finished his academic career at Harvard, his grade point average hovered near to 3.9. He graduated cum laud. He learned a lot along the way.

In the fall, he will be moving to Washington, DC and will be working inside the White House for a year and then his ambition is to attend Harvard Law School.

This summer, he has for the most part been partying with his brother Jacob and his lifelong Chelsea friends – an Iranian, a handful of Dominicans, a few Puerto Ricans and every now and then he hangs out with me, an aging anglo. He, his brother and all their Chelsea buddies just returned from a week in San Juan – and I can assure everyone reading this, there was no studying of any kind going on and not much intellectuality in the small beachfront villa they rented.

It has taken me some time to reach the point where I am able to write a few words about Joe’s graduation from Harvard.

Suffice to say, all of us in our family are proud of Joe. His brother Jacob, a college grad and CHS grad, is his brother’s biggest supporter and as a father, I’m so proud to see sons who have not an ounce of jealousy between them or their Chelsea friends, nearly all of whom have graduated from college or who have entered the workplace and are all doing well and are great kids. These guys love one another. There is no ambiguity about the loyalty and the friendships they share.

Graduating from Harvard with honors is one thing. Being from this city and achieving that is another.

Former State Senate President Tom Birmingham always tended to put it discretely when talking about his experience of growing up on Essex Street and ending up with degrees from Harvard and Harvard Law School that he was still more about Chelsea than he is about Harvard.

Joe remains more about Chelsea than Harvard at this point in his life.

He’s a bright kid with a great future in front of him.

I love him. I’m proud of him.

As we tend to say in Chelsea: “Thanks for the use of the stage.”

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