Tom Brady helps kick off rededicated TYP

QB celebrates Myra Kraft ’64 legacy with Transitional Year Program students and alumni

Photos/Stewart Woodward

Students, Patriots owner Robert Kraft, left, and President Fred Lawrence, third from left, listen as Patriots QB Tom Brady speaks.

A special guest joined the party to celebrate Brandeis’ newly renamed Myra Kraft ’64 Transitional Year Program.

New England Patriots star quarterback Tom Brady, who grew close to the beloved Brandeis alumna during his long tenure with the National Football League team, made a surprise appearance at team owner Robert Kraft’s home on Tuesday to meet the TYP students and alumni.

“I wish you the best of luck,” Brady, who was accompanied by his 3-year-old son, Benjamin, said in addressing the TYP students. “You guys are the leaders of tomorrow. You are going to be leading little boys like this and little girls like my little girl (Vivian).”

Kraft, a prominent Boston businessman, and his family made a $5 million gift earlier this year to rename the pioneering college-access program for his wife Myra, a dedicated Brandeis trustee and supporter who died in 2011.

“She loved the school as a student. She loved the school as an alumna. She loved the school as a trustee,” Brandeis President Frederick Lawrence said. “We talked about the right way to memorialize her and remember her at Brandeis." Lawrence also unveiled a portrait of Myra that will hang in the Irving Enclave at Brandeis.

Through her work with the Robert and Myra Kraft Family Foundation and as president of the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation, Myra sought to improve the lives of people at Brandeis, in Boston, Israel and around the world. She had a particular interest in helping children.

“She was a wonderful woman,” Brady told the TYP students. “You guys didn’t get to know her like I did. She was an incredible woman, and you should be really proud to be associated with her name.”

Kraft spoke lovingly of his wife and offered words of encouragement to the students.

“All of you are embarking on a very special program,” he said. “You’re in a great environment and you will have a great opportunity to succeed. I’m so proud that all of you will bear my sweetheart’s name as Myra Kraft Scholars. You couldn’t find a better brand to be associated with.”

Since its founding at Brandeis 45 years ago, TYP has helped more than 1,000 young people earn college diplomas. The one-year academic program prepares students who have not had access to the necessary resources either at home or in school to handle a rigorous four-year undergraduate experience.

By the time Myra arrived at Brandeis as a freshman, in the fall of 1960, she was already familiar with the university. Her father, Worcester, Mass., businessman Jacob Hiatt, was a visionary early Brandeis leader and she often accompanied him on visits to campus.

She became a Brandeis trustee in 1986 and served as vice chair of the board for 10 years. Myra also served on the presidential search committee that brought Lawrence to Brandeis.

Over the years, the Krafts have supported a number of initiatives at Brandeis, including student scholarships and a chair in Arab politics. Consistent with their commitment to fostering interreligious dialogue, the family also established the Myra and Robert Kraft and Jacob Hiatt Professor of Christian Studies at Brandeis, and a similar chair in Judaic studies at Holy Cross, a Jesuit institution in Worcester.

Categories: Alumni, Student Life

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