updated 05/06/2014 AT 1:00 PM ET
•originally published 05/07/2014 AT 6:30 AM ET
All eyes were on JFK’s grandson, Jack Kennedy Schlossberg, May 4, when he hosted the Profile in Courage Awards at the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum in Boston.
Schlossberg, 21, took over hosting duties for his mom, Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, who’s currently in Japan, where she’s serving as U.S. Ambassador. He bestowed the award to Paul Bridges, Mayor of Uvalda, Georgia, and President George H. W. Bush.
Since Bush Sr., 89, couldn’t attend, he asked his granddaughter, Lauren Bush Lauren, 29, to accept on his behalf. And it was a match made in politico heaven when she met Schlossberg.
That morning, Schlossberg had given Lauren and her husband, David Lauren (son of designer Ralph Lauren), a private tour of the library, along with his sister, Rose, 25, and their father, Ed Schlossberg.
“He’s such a wonderful representative of his family,” Lauren tells PEOPLE. “It’s so great he actually participates in the committee and he’s very vocal.”
In turn, the young Democrat heaped praise on her Republican grandfather. “His decision to put country above party and political prospects makes him an example of a modern profile in courage that is all too rare,” said Schlossberg, who’s become one of the more visible (and vocal) young members of his famous clan.
The Kennedy Library, and even Schlossberg himself, poked a little fun at his growing reputation.
After telling the crowd that Schlossberg, a junior at Yale, had just completed his college finals that morning, Kennedy Library Foundation chair Ken Feinberg said: “Some people, after they take final exams they worry about the results of those exams. But Jack? He’s not worried in the slightest.
“When Jack is not writing op-eds for our honorees for USA Today and the Huffington Post, he writes for the Yale Herald and serves as a volunteer EMT. He is also our newest member of the Profile in Courage Award Committee.
“And like his grandfather, he is no shrinking violet and let all of us know – including the chair – exactly what he thought about generational gaps and things, and gender and diversity – very, very helpful.”
“If you ever want my criticism on anything, you just give me the word and I’ll give it to you,” interjected Schlossberg.
JFK’s last surviving sibling, Jean Kennedy Smith, also raved about her young nephew after the ceremony. “It means a great deal to us to see Caroline’s son taking on this role,” Smith told PEOPLE. “Caroline did a great job.”
Reporting by JULIET PENNINGTON