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Robert Kraft honors wife’s memory with generosity

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Section: Front Page, News

October 4, 2013

Myra Kraft, wife of New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, died in July 2011 of ovarian cancer. Her memory lives on with the team, with her husband and now with Brandeis University. The Transitional Year Program (TYP) was renamed for Myra Kraft this summer, after a $5 million donation by her husband. To honor her memory, Robert Kraft invited TYP students and alumni to his home.

According to TYP alumnus Dennis Hermida ’16, throughout the entire event, Kraft referred to his late wife as his “sweetheart.” According to an interview with the Boston Globe, Kraft went through a period of deep depression after losing his wife. “I sort of feel robbed,” he told The Globe. The Krafts were married for 48 years before Myra’s death.

The sentiment Kraft exuded was echoed by Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who appeared at the event briefly to express his own admiration and love for Myra.

“If we were just meeting [Brady], it wouldn’t have been as cool, but the fact that he was so passionate about Myra Kraft was what struck me the most. He was on the verge of tears talking about how wonderful this woman was,” Hermida recalled.

Brandeis’ Transitional Year Program prepares students for university academics who may not have had opportunities for upper level classes in their high schools. During their first year, a TYP student takes two classes with everyone in the program, two others with half of the group, and one university course each semester.

Students must keep their grades high, or else they will have to petition for their right to stay in the program, and by extension, at Brandeis. “C+ won’t cut it,” Hermida said, “You’ll have to petition.”

Looking back, Hermida believes that the most valuable part of the program was the confidence it instilled him. “You were a big fish in a little pond, but now you’re a little fish in an even bigger pond, and TYP teaches you that no matter what the means were for you to get here, you got into this institution.”

While Hermida has graduated from TYP, he and all of this year’s alumni are still involved. “Each alumn is given a mentee,” he said, “it’s kind of like keeping the legacy going … the fact that I can bestow the little amount of wisdom that I have is really really awesome.”

Myra Kraft ’64 loved Brandeis University. She was a Brandeis trustee and served on the board for 10 years. The ceremony at his home took place on Tuesday, Sept. 24. Robert Kraft explained how passionate his wife felt about the university and particularly about TYP. Myra once had the opportunity to work on a non-profit with a TYP alum in Haiti.

According to TYP alumnus Dennis Hermida ’16, Kraft revealed that “out of all of Myra’s last wishes, the most pleasing wish was giving this money to the Transitional Year Program because with every fiber of her being she thought that TYP scholars would change the world.”

Hermida said that in hearing this, the TYP students were honored that a woman some of them had never even heard of thought so highly of them. “She could have donated her money to any other program or to the university, but the fact that she chose the Transitional Year Program is huge.”

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