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Model community values of Kenwood’s life

Published: September 2, 2011
Section: Editorials


At Brandeis Beginnings on Monday, university administrators described the Brandeis family and told students and parents about the university’s most successful alumni, including professional athletes, award-winning writers, musicians and doctors.

On Sunday, Michael Kenwood ’94, a volunteer EMT in New Jersey and former director of the Brandeis Emergency Medical Corps (BEMCo) died in an attempted rescue during Hurricane Irene, trying to reach a car submerged under water with his fellow EMT and friend Peter Simon ’94.

If university leaders need to describe Brandeis, they can simply point to the life Michael Kenwood lived and the legacy he leaves behind. And Brandeis students should realize that it is not famous athletes or musicians that define this university. It is people like Kenwood who define Brandeis, people who make serving others not just a hobby but a way of life.

The values of selflessness, service and enthusiasm that embodied Kenwood’s life should serve as a reminder to our entire community that what matters most is not what we accomplish but how we treat one another.

We learn many things during our time in college, including how to prepare for the real world. But as we pursue academic excellence and ambitious careers, we must not forget that it is our character and the values we live each day that will change society for the better.

It does not make sense why someone of such high character and integrity like Michael Kenwood died last weekend.

But we, as a community, can extend his legacy forever by instilling the values of kindness, character and selflessness in all our students, and the world will be better for it.