As the only surviving child of John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Caroline Kennedy has had an extensive career in her own right. After receiving an elite education at Harvard and Columbia, she has dedicated much of her life to public and philanthropic service. In 2013, she became the first woman to serve as U.S. Ambassador to Japan when she was nominated by President Barack Obama. During her three years in Japan, she gained massive popularity with Japanese citizens and played an important role in boosting U.S.-Japan relations. Domestically, Kennedy served on the boards of several non-profits, and famously earned $1 a week when she (a lawyer by training) worked as director of the Office of Strategic Partnerships for the New York City Department of Education. More than a diplomat, lawyer, and philanthropist, Kennedy is also an accomplished writer. She's authored, co-authored, or edited more than a dozen books, including a collection of her mother's favorite poems titled "The Best-Loved Poems of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis." In 2021, President Biden nominated Kennedy to be the next U.S. Ambassador to Australia, pending Senate confirmation.
Having spent much of her youth in the limelight, Kennedy was interested in politics, but not the national attention, when she quietly entered Columbia Law School in 1985. By then, Kennedy was already in her late 20s and went out of her way to avoid any attention from the media. Academically gifted, after her second year she was already making $1,250 a week as a summer associate at the New York law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison. In 1988, she earned a Juris Doctor from Columbia Law School, graduating in the top 10 percent of her class.
In 2015, Kennedy took a break from her duties in Japan to return to her alma mater. Showing her connection to the Columbia community, she agreed to be that year's featured speaker at the School of International and Public Affairs’ (SIPA) graduation ceremonies. "It is hard to think of a public servant with a more illustrious legacy than Caroline Kennedy," said Jenna Barzelay, President of the SIPA Student Association, explaining why Kennedy is such a source of inspiration for students at Columbia. “She has spent her career leveraging her unique background to work on issues in the public realm, especially in education.”