By Stacia Salvatore
Patricia Hampl, writer and educator, will address graduates and their families at St. Bonaventure University’s 153rd annual Commencement exercises on Sunday, May 12.
Hampl, Regents Professor and McKnight Distinguished Professor at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, was asked to be the keynote speaker by University President Sister Margaret Carney, O.S.F.
“Sister Margaret and I met in Assisi when I was working on a book about contemplative life and she was staying in the same hostel years ago,” Hampl said. “Where else to meet a Franciscan?”
Sister Margaret recommended Hampl, who was then approved by the Board of Trustees as the commencement speaker.
“Patricia Hampl was selected because she is an outstanding writer with many honors to her credit,” Sister Margaret said. “One of her earliest books was the story of a pilgrimage to Assisi and her appreciation of the Franciscan tradition.”
The Minnesota native first won recognition for “A Romantic Education.” This memoir about her Czech heritage won a Houghton Mifflin Literary Fellowship. Her works have established her as an influential figure in the rise of autobiographical writing in the past 25 years.
According to her website, patriciahampl.com, Hampl’s most recent book is “The Florist’s Daughter,” which is the winner of numerous best and year-end awards, including the New York Times’ “100 Notable Books of the Year.” Along with her books, Hampl is the author of several poems.
Hampl has spoken at other commencements in the past, but was somewhat nervous when Sister Margaret asked her to be part of Bonaventure’s commencement.
“Commencement addresses are tough, partly because people mainly want you to be short and sweet, but inspiring,” Hampl said.
Senior journalism and mass communication major Claire Mangine said she looks forward to the keynote speaker as she prepares for her Bonaventure career to end.
“I’m excited to hear what Ms. Hampl has to say to the senior class. Although she is from the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, I’m hoping that she’ll be able to relate to us Bonaventure graduates,” Mangine said. “I hope she leaves us with an inspiring message that’ll reassure us graduates that our education at Bonaventure has been priceless and is something that we’ll be proud of forever.”
When asked what she was hoping to address to the Bonaventure Class of 2013 Hampl responded, “Ah, but I can’t give the show away ahead of time!”