Commencement ’07 speakers announced

Andy McDonough

A novelist who has written more than 20 books and a Quinnipiac student who has been praised for her leadership qualities will address seniors at the undergraduate commencement May 20.

Author Mary Higgins Clark is the guest speaker. According to Lynn Bushnell, the vice president for public affairs, the Class of 2007 chose Clark to be the graduation speaker.

“We survey the juniors each year around this time, and ask them who they would like to have as a speaker. Mary Higgins Clark was cited frequently last year as a commencement speaker choice,” Bushnell said via e-mail.

Quinnipiac senior Kat Swift, an Entry-level Masters Physician’s Assistant major, will also be speaking at the ceremony.

Senior criminal justice major Danny Grzesik seemed pleased with the choice of Clark. “I’m sure she’ll have some good advice for us,” he said. “Obviously, I think she has some good advice for us,” he said. “Obviously, I think she has an influence on the community.”

Clark overcame obstacles such as the deaths of her father during her childhood and her first husband when she was in her thirties. After the death of her first husband, Clark took on full-time work as a writer to support her five children.

After ensuring her children’s education, Clark returned to school herself. She graduated from Fordham University at Lincoln Center with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy in 1979. Clark has written 24 novels during a career that has spanned five decades. In 1968, she published her first full-length novel, “Aspire to the Heavens.” This month, she is scheduled to publish her most recent book, “I Heard That Song Before.”

Clark may have much to share with students on the subject of persistence. She sold her first story in 1956 after years marked by trial and failure.

“It will be interesting what her perspective is and what she has to offer us as we embark on a journey,” Grzesik said.

Justin Algarin, the president of the senior class, echoed a similar sentiment.

“She is a great author, and I think we’ll learn a lot from her,” Algarin said. “She’ll be very interesting and motivational.”

Swift, the student speaker, who has been involved with Student Government and received the Philip Troup award for leadership, said she was honored to be chosen. “I was very surprised that I was selected,” Swift said. “I’m very enthusiastic about our school.”

She is the first female student speaker in several years.

Dean of Students Manuel Carreiro and Associate Dean of Student Affairs Monique Drucker chose Swift based on the outline of her speech. All recipients of the “outstanding senior” award were eligible to send such an outline to Drucker and Carreiro.

“She’s one of the best people for the job,” said Algarin, an economics major. “She just knows what she’s doing. She’s going be calm up there; she’ll be great.”