Like many of my peers, my first brush with Professor Alford came in the form of a letter addressed to me in 2017. It came as part of my acceptance package to Harvard Law School. In it, Professor Alford lauded the Graduate Program’s “emphasis on offering the kind of personal attention and support” one would not ordinarily expect from an institution as large as Harvard Law School.
I was skeptical.
Upon arriving in Cambridge, however, I was pleased to discover not only that Professor Alford was true to his word—the Graduate Program has indeed created a special environment in which legal scholars of diverse origins and opinions can debate ideas in a spirit of mutual respect and collaboration—but that he also took it upon himself to personally contribute to and actively participate in the social and academic life of Harvard’s graduate class.
Although I did not have the pleasure of taking one of his courses, I will always fondly remember Professor Alford as the smiling, bespectacled face that greeted me during orientation, that showed a genuine interest in and admiration of my country during the HLS annual International Party, and that graciously hosted us at the Bright-Landry Hockey Center to watch a Varsity Men’s Hockey game during a memorable “FaculTea” event.
These small gestures—a smile, a conversation, an invitation—might seem insignificant, and I doubt Professor Alford realized their impact at the time, but they each represent an important stitch in the fabric of the HLS Graduate Program, which, three years later, exudes the warmth and familiarity of a well-worn winter coat.
I know this feeling. It’s the feeling of home. Thank you, Professor Alford, for opening the door and welcoming me inside.