"There are students at Cambridge studying politics because Aaron convinced them to"University of Cambridge/Youtube

We are some of the former undergraduate students of Dr Aaron Rapport, a lecturer in Politics and International Relations and fellow at Corpus Christi, who passed away this week at the age of 38. All of us took his course, ‘US Foreign Policy’ when it was first offered in 2017. Like his colleagues and current students, we were deeply saddened to hear the news of his passing and extend our deepest condolences to his many cherished colleagues and loved ones.

We hope it stands as a mark of our deep respect and admiration for Aaron that, having left Cambridge as graduates last year, we have taken the time to remember him in the pages of Varsity. Quite frankly, it is the least we can do.

Aaron was a fantastic teacher, excellent supervisor and wonderful lecturer. He was one of the few (and for some of us, the only) lecturers who attempted to make us laugh every time we met for our lectures. Even more rarely for a Cambridge academic, he more often than not succeeded. There are precious few people who could make nuclear policy funny, yet Aaron somehow managed it. Yet, his humour did not stop him from being incisive and direct in his appraisal of politics, most particularly his area of expertise, American foreign policy. Past his dry wit lay a deep desire to teach and impart knowledge to all his students. His copious, always fair, notes on our supervision essays, including extensive further reading, are a testament to that.

Past his dry wit lay a deep desire to teach and impart knowledge

Last year, Aaron was awarded the Pilkington Prize for Teaching Excellence. The selection committee noted that, in 2017 to 2018, he supervised 66 students across 25 colleges, as well as participated in extensive outreach efforts on behalf of the politics department. Put simply, there are students at Cambridge studying politics because Aaron convinced them to.

That Aaron could continually demonstrate such a commitment to his students, and do so with enduring good humour and kindness amidst the most trying of circumstances is a testament to an exceptional man. We knew Aaron but briefly, but it is perfectly clear to us that his passing is a loss to this University, his colleagues, his College and, most importantly, those who loved him and knew him best.

Aaron represented what was the best about our University, and about academia in general. Not only was he a highly regarded scholar, he was a teacher of rare ability. We are all so thankful that we were able to spend even a brief time with him through supervisions and lectures. His legacy will live on in how we think about the subject he taught and in our memory of his tremendous personal example. We hope this is the highest tribute that can be paid from students to an extraordinary teacher.

Signed by members of Dr Aaron Rapport’s ‘US Foreign Policy’ paper 2017-2018, and other past students

Connor MacDonald, Emmanuel College
Jacqui Cho, Emmanuel College
Hyun Ji Oh, Churchill College
Emilia Persson, Churchill College
Hani El-Bay, Trinity College
Tess Duff, Girton College
James Hamilton, Magdalene College
Tommy Gale, Clare College
Alex Mistlin, Emmanuel College
James Thomas, Girton College
Flamur Krasniqi, Homerton College
Yomna El-Serafy, Murray Edwards College
Niamh Curran, Fitzwilliam College
Rhiannon Melliar-Smith, Trinity Hall
Jack Bell, Gonville & Caius College
David Wei, Corpus Christi College
Neha Dewan, Christ’s College
Pratyush Pranav, St Edmund’s College
Madeleine Lofchy, Gonville & Caius College
Peera Charoenvattananukul (MPhil student)
Jack Higgins
Joe Robinson
Jonathan Davies
Stephanie Moumtzis
Dylan Carroll
Mariane Lisboa de Paula

If you were a student of Dr Rapport and wish to add your name to this tribute to him, please contact features@varsity.co.uk.

The POLIS Department also has a tribute to the late Dr Aaron Rapport on their website, for any students or staff who wish to leave comments about their memories of Dr Rapport. Comments, which can be added here, will be passed on to the fellow’s family.