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Award Winning Novelist to Speak at 222nd Commencement in Annapolis

Posted by St. John's College on May 6, 2014

One hundred and four St. John’s College seniors, having completed their senior essays and defended them in oral examinations, are expected to receive their diplomas at the college’s 222nd commencement ceremony on the college’s front lawn on Sunday, May 11 at 10:30 a.m.  Twenty-five students in the Annapolis Graduate Institute will receive their master’s degrees. At St. John’s, the senior class selects the commencement speaker.  This year, alumnus (1986) and award winning novelist Andrew Krivak will address the graduates.  The graduating seniors represent 25 states and the District of Columbia, China, Thailand, Turkey, Nepal, Russia, and Nigeria. The master’s candidates represent 13 states.

Krivak’s first novel, “The Sojourn,” was a finalist for the National Book Award in 2011, and won The Chautauqua Prize, and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize (2012). “In my novel,” he notes, “I wanted to take the survival spirit of my grandparents and great aunts and uncles—that spirit which is identifiably American—and place it back in the old country, in the mind, heart, and body of one man, and see how it was that that spirit survived in the sojourn of its youth.”

Among the reviews, Michael Dirda of the Washington Post writes, “a powerful, assured first novel… In nominating ‘The Sojourn’ for the NBA shortlist, the judges obviously passed over books published with more hoopla by bigger trade houses. Yet what better use is there for a literary prize than to draw attention to fine work that might otherwise be missed? So, this time, at least, the system has worked.”  Sebastian Smee of Boston Globe writes, “I thought of Lermontov and Stendhal, Joseph Roth and Cormac McCarthy as I read. But make no mistake. Krivak’s voice and sense of drama are entirely his own.”  And Publisher’s Weekly notes, "Charged with emotion and longing...this lean, resonant debut [is] an undeniably powerful accomplishment.”

Krivak is also the author of “A Long Retreat: In Search of a Religious Life”, a memoir about his eight years in the Jesuit Order, and editor of “The Letters of William Carlos Williams to Edgar Irving Williams,”1902-1912, winner of the 2009 Louis Martz Prize. The grandson of Slovak immigrants, he grew up in Pennsylvania, has lived in London, and currently lives with his wife and three children in Somerville, Mass.

The college’s commencement ceremonies are simple, but rich with tradition. The ceremony opens with a procession of faculty and students led by Tutor David Townsend on the tree-lined front lawn. A handful of prizes and honorable mentions are awarded before each student is given a diploma and congratulated by St. John’s President Christopher B. Nelson.

Eighteen of this year’s graduating seniors and six of the master’s candidates are Maryland residents.

The graduating seniors from Maryland include:

Thomas William Braithwaite, Blair Elizabeth Coppage, Michael Joseph Kalkavage, Jonathan Turner Sosebee, and Jordan Zachary Stearns, of Annapolis; John Henry Fahey Reilley and Gordon Edward Seltz, of Baltimore; Sarah Judith Marx and Christopher Karl Mellon, Jr., of Chevy Chase; Curtis Henry Campbell, of Clarksville; David Colin Lew, of Columbia; Kevin William Morris, of Crofton;

Madeline Elizabeth Garner, of Easton; Frank Jeanpaul Pecoraro, of Ellicott City; Charlotte Emily Steinecke, of Laurel;  Lawrence Edward Leibowitz, of Reisterstown; Oleksiy Katrysh, of Salisbury; and Christopher Scott McPherson, of Towson.

The graduating master’s candidates from Maryland are:

Camden Chase Bowdren and Anne Elizabeth Zolkower, of Annapolis; Brady Joseph Lee, of Baltimore; Margaret Josephine Bair, of Bowie; Molly Katharyn Meyer, of Davidsonville; Brian Stewart Wilson, of Rising Sun; and Jean Elizabeth Chase, of Woodbine.

In case of rain, commencement exercises will take place in Francis Scott Key Auditorium from 10:15 a.m. to noon. College Avenue will be closed to traffic from St. John’s Street to King George Street; the first block of Prince George Street will be closed as well. 

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