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Kennedy has found inspiration beyond his bloodlines, seeking guidance from retiring Rep. Barney Frank; the teachings of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.; and the legislative acumen of Rep. Jim McGovern, a Massachusetts Democrat, and Republican Sen. Richard G. Lugar of Indiana.
"He was never afraid to reach across the aisle," Kennedy says of Lugar, whose penchant for siding with Democrats most likely played a role in his 2012 primary defeat. "People that stand out to me are those who have shown an ability to stand for their values even in the wake of potential political backlash."
Kennedy also found motivation for continued public service during his time in the Peace Corps, which was established during the presidency of his great-uncle, President John F. Kennedy.
He spent two years in the Puerto Plata region of the Dominican Republic, helping locals establish control of a park that had been dominated by outside tour companies; he raised more than $100,000 through grants and aid money and created a sustainable business model to compensate guides and turn the park into a profitable business. "So thats the biggest issue out there, period: trying to find ways to get people back to work," Kennedy says.
He plans to focus on education as well, specifically increasing access to early-childhood education.
Kennedy, who has studied in Africa and Southeast Asia, said hed also like to work on international issues.
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