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JOEL LEE SHIN, HARVARD UNIVERSITY A.B., J.D., M.P.P.

HARVARD COLLEGE CLASS OF 1990 LATIN ORATION

The joel lee shin memorial latin oration at the montfort academy is one of the highest awards bestowed upon a montfort knight at graduation

Seventeen years ago, while working in Washington, DC, I met an extraordinary young man named Joel Shin, who was working at The Scowcroft Group and previously as a senior foreign policy advisor to George W. Bush during his presidential campaign.  Our mutual friend and mentor, former National Security Advisor of the United States General Brent Scowcroft, and our other colleagues at The Scowcroft Group, introduced us to one another.  General Scowcroft, one of the principal architects of the end of the Cold War, had a gift for finding talented and thoughtful people and recruiting them into public service. 

Joel was brilliant.  He majored in the classics at Harvard University.  After his graduation he stayed at Harvard and earned a Masters degree there in public policy, followed by his law degree at Harvard Law School.  After Harvard he continued his education at Oxford in England, where he was a Rhodes scholar and where he earned a masters degree in comparative philology—or how languages relate to one another and to history.

Joel was an accomplished scholar of Latin.  He was so accomplished in Latin, that Harvard University selected Joel in 1990 to deliver its annual Latin Oration, a tradition that goes back to Harvard’s first graduation in 1642.  The Latin Oration is one of Harvard’s highest honors.

Very sadly, Joel Shin passed away suddenly on January 21, 2014.  He left behind a family who dearly loved him and a great number of devoted friends, including me.  And he left behind a country deprived of his great talent. 

When Joel passed away, I could think of no more fitting tribute to my friend than to inaugurate the Joel Lee Shin Memorial Latin Oration at The Montfort Academy, an honor bestowed upon the Montfort Knight who has most excelled in his or her studies in classical Latin.

The Joel Lee Shin Memorial Latin Oration has now become one of the most treasured traditions at The Montfort Academy. In 2016, Joel’s brother, Dr. Joseph Shin, M.D., delivered Montfort’s commencement address and spoke about the importance of classical education in the life of the Shin family and also about his work around as a cleft palate surgeon around the world. Joel's mother was present for the commencement address and received a gift of flowers from The Montfort Academy’s Class of 2016. In 2018, the Shin family very generously endowed for the next 20 years The Joel Lee Shin Memorial Latin Oration with a scholarship to the recipient to use at college. Thank you to the Shin family for this generous and beautiful gift.

Very sincerely,

Richard Greco, Jr.

President, The Montfort Academy

Peter Jennings begins the The Joel Shin Memorial Latin Oration at Minute 24:00.