Alumni Spotlight: Rudy Kramer

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Alumni have always had a strong presence in Townsend Harris. Harrisites and alumni often connect through many platforms such as events like Career Day, when Harrisites have an opportunity to interact with alumni and be mentored by them. They find opportunities by connecting to alumni who serve as a vital asset to the academic environment of Townsend Harris.

Rudy Kramer, a Harrisite and notable Alumnus, is currently the Chief Development Officer at West End House, an independent Boys and Girls Club serving over 1,500 people between the ages of seven to twenty-two. They offer a myriad of after-school programs advocating academic success and career development for the youth. Kramer also worked in the Posse Foundation, a prestigious and well known program with which many high schoolers are familiar. He described this job as a rewarding experience and opportunity. Kramer’s education after Townsend Harris was expensive. Townsend Harris is a humanities based school, so it is no surprise that Kramer completed his bachelor’s degree in creative writing. His work in development and fundraising involves managing team of three people to raise $2.5 million dollars each year. In order to do so, it is important to write grants, plan events, conduct research, and develop relationships outside the company. This highlights the key concepts of the skills Townsend Harris prepares its students by offering writing classes. In accordance with the true Harrisite nature, Kramer finds his job rewarding because he finds himself constantly learning and meeting new people as a part of his job experience.  

Kramer also shared his memories from his days as a student in Townsend Harris. He exemplified perseverance, a characteristic which many Harrisites embody. He felt fortunate to count himself among those accepted, putting Townsend Harris as his first choice after being rejected in eighth grade. He mentioned, “I stayed at the junior high and reapplied and was accepted as an incoming sophomore – so my persistence paid off.” The experience Kramer shared with us is similar to what incoming sophomores now feel once entering a rigorous environment like Townsend Harris. He said, “Coming into THHS as a sophomore and missing a true freshman year in high school was a bit challenging – especially because all of my peers were the last class to have experienced the old THHS building, which seemed like a unique bonding experience. Also freshman year can really set the tone for your entire high school experience. Luckily, I was able to find a group of really great friends that I consider life-long, even though we haven’t been in touch in a really long time.” He was able to keep up with high school friends through Facebook.

Extracurricular activities play an important role in the lives of Harrisites. Kramer described the transition of being an incoming sophomore as challenging. “I wasn’t very active until my senior year of high school when I joined The Classic, was the last person on the bench for the inaugural varsity baseball team, and participated in a performance of Guys & Dolls. I guess it took me a while to warm up to extracurricular activities.” Many can relate to this, but Kramer says, “I didn’t take on a lot of extracurricular activities and I didn’t have a robust social life so that allowed me to focus a lot of my attention toward academics. I would not necessarily recommend that path to other students.” It is best to be involved as much as possible. Reflecting back on his high school days, he realized that Townsend Harris has taught him to be a critical thinker. He commented on the advantage Harrisites have by taking an AP course and how that helped him in college. “Attending THHS absolutely gave me a leg up in higher education. It made college feel easy and more importantly, it gave me a very strong foundation in writing that has helped me in my career. The ability to take college level courses at Queens College and AP courses means that you get a head start in college.”

Rudy Kramer is an example of a Harrisite who truly executes the Ephebic Oath every Harrisite swears on a daily basis in his job. Communicating and reaching out to others while utilizing skills learned in class shows the spirit of Townsend Harris. Kramer is an example of an alumnus who is an inspiring mentor and is proud to take what he learned and apply it in his career. He believes that working hard to achieve your goal and thriving in your high school career will help with future endeavors. The best way to have a memorable high school experience is to be involved as much as possible.