On September 3, 2019 Benedictine Students gathered to hear Candice Millard, a New York Times bestselling author, present the Convocation speech.
The speech focused on Millard’s book “Hero of the Empire: The Boer War, a Daring Escape and the Making of Winston Churchill.” During the speech, she talked about her book and related Winston Churchill’s adventures to the adventures that students will experience at Benedictine
“At the cusp of your new life is where Winston Churchill came from what gave him the courage, the insight, and the will to become such a towering figure. It’s impossible to know, right now, what will lay the foundations of your later life, but I hope that, like Churchill, you have faith in your star. And I know that here, at Benedictine, you’re in the perfect place for your adventure,” Millard said.
Julia Fassero, junior, was excited to see her in person. Over the summer, Fassero read Millard’s book.
“I really liked the book,” Fassero said, “I mean, I’m a history major so I’m inclined to like those kind of things. But I thought it was really well written and a good narrative-history. I learned a lot about Churchill and the Boer War that I didn’t know before.”
However, not everyone needed to be a history major to enjoy the speech.
“We’re at a liberal arts college,” Fassero said. “So even if you are not a history major, like I am, you can still get something out of the talk.”
That was the case for Sophia Hall, freshman. She did not read the book but still appreciated the talk and all the Winston Churchill facts.
“She had little pictures (of Churchill) she put on the slides,” Hall said, “I didn’t know (many facts) about Winston Churchill, that he like started off small then all of the sudden everyone knows who he is.”
Despite the excitement surrounding the Convocation speaker, Millard did not meet some expectations. Fassero noted how the speech was more of a book report.
“Having read her book, I felt like I was getting a recap of the book,” Fassero said, “but it was mostly a recap of her book, which I was not expecting.”
The reason for the disappointment could have been due to of the length of her talk. Fassero noted this year’s speech was much shorter than previous Convocations.
“It was very short compared to the two that I went to,” Fessaro said. “I was expecting it to be longer.”
Whether students felt it was long or short it is a crucial part of Benedictine tradition. Convocation marks the beginning and end of all students’ time at Benedictine. When students graduate they will be retracing the steps they took when they first came to Benedictine.
“It’s like the bookends. I think President Minnis used that word or something at some point,” Fessaro said “(Convocation) starts off your college career and it ends with something very similar.”