On October 10, 2022, the Yale Alumni Association and partners hosted a virtual awards ceremony and fireside chat with the winners of the 2022 Yale-Jefferson Awards for Public Service. Announced this year in late September, the Yale-Jefferson Awards are annual honors “recognizing sustained public service that is individual, innovative, impactful, and inspiring”.* There are three recipients: a Yale College student, a graduate or professional school student, and a member of the alumni body. This year, Jacob Cramer ’22, Dan Li ’25 M.D. Ph.D., and Caroline Tanbee Smith ’14 were honored for their demonstrated commitment to public service.
Jacob was recognized for his work with Love For Our Elders, a nonprofit he founded in 2013. Inspired by his relationship with his grandfather and his experiences of volunteering at an assisted living community as a teen, Jacob came up with the idea of an organization that delivers handwritten letters to elders and facilitates intergenerational connection. To date, the organization boasts a team of 18 campus volunteer chapters and has sent over 250,000 cards to elders in over 70 countries, in addition to thousands of care and hygiene supplies.
Beyond Love For Our Elders, Jacob forged ahead in his public service journey by becoming heavily involved in the Dwight Hall member groups Yale Children’s Theater and Demos during his time at Yale. Specifically, Jacob led hands-on science experiments at Fair Haven School as a Demos volunteer and served as the artistic director of the Yale Children’s Theater, teaching acting and improv workshops to third through fifth graders. This experience had an enduring impact on Jacob, as evidenced by his reflection below:
“Joining Yale Children’s Theater at the start of my first year, I immediately found a close-knit community of the coolest kind of people–those who jump at the opportunity to put on goofy cowboy hats and country line dance or invent a hippety-hoppety rhyming song to teach about the Eastern Spadefoot for equally enthusiastic kids. I quickly realized that helping kids practice social-emotional skills and creative thinking is one of my passions, and there’s no other way I’d have it.”
*To read more about the three winners of the Yale-Jefferson Awards for Public Service, visit this link.