When he graduated from Yale College in 1966, John Kerry delivered the class oration. This May, Kerry — now U.S. secretary of state — will again take the podium before a crowd of graduating seniors, only this time as the keynote speaker on Class Day, part of Commencement weekend.
Kerry will deliver the Class Day lecture on Sunday, May 18 at 2 p.m. on Old Campus.
The senior class chooses the Class Day speaker, who is traditionally a Yale alumnus/a.
Kerry was sworn in as the 68th secretary of state of the United States on Feb. 1, 2013, becoming the first sitting Senate Foreign Relations Committee chair to be named to that post in over a century.
Shortly before he graduated from Yale, Kerry enlisted in the U.S. Navy, and completed two tours of duty. He served in combat as a Swift Boat skipper patrolling the rivers of the Mekong Delta. He returned home from Vietnam with a Silver Star, a Bronze Star with Combat V, and three Purple Hearts.
Back in the United States, Kerry began to speak out against the Vietnam War. He co-founded the Vietnam Veterans of America, and as a U.S. senator, fought to secure veterans’ benefits, extension of the G.I. Bill for Higher Education, and improved treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder.
In 1976, Kerry received his law degree from Boston College Law School and went to work as a top prosecutor in Middlesex County, Massachusetts. He was elected lieutenant governor of Massachusetts in 1982, and two years later, he was elected to the U.S. Senate where he served for 28 years, the last four as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
He also chaired the Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs and held senior positions on the Finance, Commerce, and Small Business committees, and served as a member of the bipartisan Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction. When Kerry left the Senate for the State Department, he was the seventh-most-senior senator.
Kerry was the Democratic Party’s nominee for president of the United States in 2004.
The Yale alumnus is the author of best-selling books, including “A Call to Service: My Vision for a Better America” and “This Moment on Earth,” which he co-authored with his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry.