Vanderpool 2017 Commencement Speaker

Award-winning Author to Deliver Benedictine College Commencement Address

Published: Thursday, March 23, 2017

Clare Vanderpool writing at the Abbey Guest House

Benedictine College has announced that award-winning author Clare Vanderpool will give the keynote address for the 2017 Commencement Exercises, set for May 13, 2017, at 10:00 a.m. in the Ralph Nolan Gymnasium on the college campus.  She is a noted children’s author whose books have won the Newbery Medal and Printz Honor.

A friend of St. Benedict's Abbey on campus, Vanderpool has been known to retreat to the Abbey Guest House to write.

Vanderpool grew up in Wichita, Kansas, and currently lives in a house just four blocks from her childhood home. Her first book, Moon Over Manifest, has a fictional Kansas town as its setting. The book was a New York Times Best Seller and won the 2011 John Newbery Medal as the year’s “most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.” Vanderpool is the first debut author to earn the award in 30 years and is also the first native Kansan Newbery Medalist.

In 2014, the American Library Association named her latest book, Navigating Early, a Printz Honor Book. This award is for books that represent the best writing in young adult literature based entirely on literary merit.

Vanderpool says she grew up reading many wonderful books, with favorites including Harold and the Purple Crayon, Anne of Green Gables and Island of the Blue Dolphins. She graduated from Newman University in 1987 with degrees in English and Elementary Education. As a young adult in the late 80s and early 90s, she worked for the Catholic Diocese of Wichita as director of youth and young adult ministry. She is married and lives with her husband in the College Hill neighborhood of Wichita, Kan., with their four children.

Although she has two college degrees, she says her "best education has come from reading, listening to family stories, looking out the car window on road trips, pretending to be pirates with my brother, and just plain imagining."

Vanderpool is a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.

Founded in 1858, Benedictine College is a Catholic, Benedictine, residential, liberal arts college located on the bluffs above the Missouri River in Atchison, Kansas.  The school is proud to have been named one of America’s Best Colleges by U.S. News & World Report as well as one of the top Catholic colleges in the nation by First Things magazine and the Newman Guide.  It prides itself on outstanding academics, extraordinary faith life, strong athletic programs, and an exceptional sense of community and belonging.  It has a mission to educate men and women within a community of faith and scholarship.