“About Me”, By Jeffrey Klein

13 Apr

Jeff solo from elon

Over the past two and a quarter years, I’ve shared many anecdotes about Jeff, as well as emails, texts, and articles written by him, all for the purpose of conveying, to the best of my ability, who my son was and why his loss is so devastating.  I’ve always felt, though, that there is nothing more instructive and enlightening than reading about or hearing how individuals describe themselves.

In the fall of Jeff’s senior year at Middlebury, he was still unsure about what career path he might like to pursue after graduation.  Shortly after he arrived back on campus, he asked me to help him think through his options.  My first suggestion, since he still had plenty of time, was that he take a few minutes one day to put down some thoughts on paper that answered the following questions.  What are the accomplishments that you are most proud of in your life?  What are your primary interests?  What excites you the most?

The premise was simple- when you really think about what you’re good at and what excites you, career ideas should flow from that.  Jeff didn’t think that writing these things down was necessary, but I told him that putting pen to paper makes you go through a more thorough thought process and self analysis.  Given his somewhat cynical reaction, I left the conversation thinking that I shouldn’t hold my breath waiting to get anything back from him.

You can imagine my surprise when, well over a month later, at 5:35pm on Election Day 2008, I received an email from Jeff with no text but with two attachments:


The first attachment was a chronology of important events in Jeff’s life, and the second (the more interesting one to me), was the document I had requested.  I had only suggested that Jeff write down some bullet points, but being the writer that he was, he had decided to write it out as a one page personal statement.  I thought it was humorous that he even gave it a title: “About Me”.  Classic Jeff.

 I only recently found this email and document, as part of my ongoing “treasure hunt” for precious memories of Jeff.  My reaction to reading Jeff’s statement for the first time in over four years was the same as it was in 2008.  I am just so proud.  So proud of who he was, of his value system and of what he deemed to be important in his life.  Unfortunately, I don’t think Jeff was ever able to make practical use of this document in choosing a career path, because jobs were scarce in 2009, and most seniors just applied for anything and everything in the hope of landing one.  But nonetheless, “About Me” stands as an eternal, priceless piece of writing by Jeff in which he answers, in his own words, the questions I had asked him to consider.  And he certainly made it clear what was most important to him in his life.

The following is a complete and exact transcript of “About Me”, by Jeffrey Klein, from November 4th, 2008:

Jeffrey Klein

About Me       

I am currently a senior at Middlebury College with a major in history and minor in economics. I am in the process of writing a 50-page thesis on the civil rights movement. That period is the period in American history that fascinates me the most, as it exemplifies a time where courageous African Americans withstood threats and intimidation in order to form a unified movement to ensure their equality under the law and in American society. Martin Luther King, Jr. is the person I admire most within the movement, as he was steadfast in his insistence on nonviolent protest, even as white Americans consistently brutalized and physically beat members of the African-American community.

The education I am receiving at Middlebury is very important to me, and I take it very seriously. I am proud to say that thus far, I have attained a 3.73 GPA and earned the distinction of Middlebury Scholar for exceptional GPA in three different semesters. Succeeding academically in college will enable me to succeed in the future.

I am also extremely active on the Middlebury campus. I am the sports editor for the Middlebury Campus, the school newspaper, a position that suits me well given my long-held love for sports. In addition, this will be my fourth year as the beat writer for the Middlebury men’s basketball team. I am also involved in the Community Friends Mentoring Program. For three years, I have met with the same child on a weekly basis. This child is from the Vergennes area and now in 8th grade. He comes from a troubled family, as his father is an alcoholic and currently in jail. Each Saturday, I mentor this child for several hours. I do things such as help him with his homework and take him down to the Middlebury sporting events (he shares my love for sports). I cannot express in writing how rewarding this experience has been for me, as we have gotten extremely close during our three years together. It is evident through his constant approval-seeking that he desperately wants a positive male role model in his life, and I think I have been able to provide that to him through the meaningful interaction we share on a weekly basis.

Another community service-based extracurricular activity I have been involved in, although on a more sporadic basis, is being a part of the Middlebury Mountain Club Outreach program. The program seeks to engage with members of the local Middlebury community, and I am happy to say that several times I have gone down to Mary Hogan Elementary School to play with the children there. We have yet to do anything this year, but in the past we have organized after-school activities for them such as kickball and running bases. Like my mentoring role, this has been a source of fulfillment for me, knowing that I am having a positive impact on these children’s lives.

This past summer, I participated in my first ever internship experience. I interned at a Boston-based broker/dealer called LPL Financial, which provides independent investment research to the advisors of individual investors. While there, I took on a long-term project in which I conducted extensive industry research on the top 50 independent broker/dealers. I compiled a database of annual metrics for each company (such as revenues and assets under management) and used that information to analyze macro growth trends in the industry. At the end of my internship, the final document was distributed to senior management, including the CEO and CFO, a fact that I am extremely proud of.

I don’t know exactly what I want to do when I graduate Middlebury. I will say, however, that this presidential election has really heightened my interest in politics, so I would definitely be open to working in a government-related job. Until then, I just want to finish my career at Middlebury College on a solid note.

2 Responses to ““About Me”, By Jeffrey Klein”

  1. londondigitalpr April 14, 2013 at 3:33 am #

    Thanks for posting this. I have been following your story which I learned through all the guys who organised Project Bald. I have children in their early twenties. I cannot imagine the pain of your loss. But this, of all the posts I have read, broke my heart the most. The sensitivity, social awareness, integrity and intelligence showed who your son was as a human being. Jeff was an amazing young man and what you are doing to raise awareness of the loss of him is brave and necessary. Thank you for sharing.

  2. susan mcclanahan April 14, 2013 at 9:39 am #

    Wow Rich; I think you’re an amazing writer and I see Jeff got the gene. Writing, mentoring, political causes, giving back, love and passion for sports (and life) all shine through in his essay. What an amazing young man with spirit and insight. It’s crushing that the world has lost him physically but I feel him through you and learn so much from him. You should be incredibly proud. xoxox, Sue

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