Award winning novelist shares his “excitement and trepidation.”
One hundred and four seniors and 25 Graduate Institute students tossed their caps in the air in celebration, after receiving their diplomas during the 222nd Commencement ceremony at St. John’s College, Annapolis. Tutor David Townsend led the procession of graduates and faculty on a sparkling spring morning for a simple ceremony rich with tradition. Award-winning novelist and alumnus Andrew Krivak (A86) held up a weathered copy of The Iliad as he welcomed the graduates and their families during the Commencement speech. “I have kept this book over the years as a reminder to be grateful and humble,” he said. Krivak’s paperback copy of The Iliad dates back to his days as a Jesuit novice, a journey he describes in his first book, A Long Retreat: In Search of a Religious Life (2008); his second book, the novel The Sojourn, was a finalist in 2011 for The National Book Award. Krivak shared with the graduates a few vivid stories from his childhood in rural northeastern Pennsylvania: “Let me tell you not about my life after St. John’s but before it, for that’s where the heart of the story begins.”
Krivak described how the one thing we must do in our lives, “and from which we should never shy, is struggle. . . .” He reminded the graduates of a familiar struggle: the mix of “excitement and trepidation” one feels when arriving at St. John’s. “…Now you had to make that transition…to putting your imagination and reason and wonder out there for others. Do you remember the feeling of reading The Iliad and knowing that you would get to sit and talk about it for two hours with 22 other people?...” Krivak recalled, “I remember…reading as if my life depended upon it: For this I have struggled. . . .” He congratulated the graduates, wishing them “gratitude, humility, friendship, and peace” as they go on with their lives.