Maurice Roberson, a veteran and active student government leader, will receive the top undergraduate honor—the John F. Kennedy Award—when he graduates from UMass Boston in May with a bachelor's degree in Africana Studies, and minors in Human Rights and Philosophy and Law.
“Maurice Roberson has shown a dedication to service that is truly laudable,” the selection committee said in its announcement. “He has served our campus in a variety of ways, including serving as a senator in USG, serving on the Student Advisory Council to the Vice Chancellor, and co-founding a new student group on campus entitled the Human Rights Group. Before and during his years at UMass Boston, he has also served our country in the Army for six years, and as an Air National Guardsman for two years.”
Roberson currently serves as paralegal with the Air National Guard and engages in local politics as an active participant in town hall meetings in his hometown of Framingham.
"Winning this award feels great for many reasons but I am a little concerned about one particular theory that may be attached to someone like myself winning this award: the American bootstrap theory,” Roberson said. “I want people to know that my rise from troubled times in America to becoming a JFK award recipient at UMass Boston did not happen on the grounds of pure personal initiative and drive. I stand firmly by the saying that ‘no [hu]man is an island.’ My growth consisted of crucial access to social capital, which afforded me the assistance at every juncture I needed, and, quite honestly, a bit of good luck."
In his speech to the Class of 2021, Roberson will urge his fellow classmates to work to improve their country and world, break down barriers among people and groups of people, and never forget the concept of play. The full text of the speech is available here.
After graduation, Roberson plans to attend law school at Georgetown University and go into corporate law, with the eventual goal of working in civil rights and human rights law.