News Detail

Buddy Bardenwerper '08 Offers Upper School Assembly

Buddy Bardenwerper ’08 returned to St. Albans to offer an Upper School assembly talk on his new novel, Mona Passage, and the experiences he had in the U.S. Coast Guard that informed his writing.

After graduating from Harvard, Bardenwerper enlisted in the Coast Guard, where he served for five years until a type 1 diabetes diagnosis led to an unexpected—and for Bardenwerper undesired—medical retirement. While waiting for the Coast Guard to process his papers, Bardenwerper found himself with an unusual amount of free time, which he chose to use to write about his years patrolling the Caribbean.

He credited author and former St. Albans writer-in-residence Curtis Sittenfeld with giving him the confidence to write. “She seemed like a normal person. I realized normal people write books.” He chose to use fiction to tell his story to give it more “emotion and power” and recommended that anyone who wants to write spend time reading and writing—and not be intimidated.

“Write the story that matters to you,” Bardenwerper said. “That’s the only way it’ll have that emotional punch. If it doesn’t mean that much to you, it’s not going to mean that much to readers.” Bardenwerper described writing the first draft as “an exhilarating process.” Bardenwerper submitted his manuscript to Syracuse University’s Veterans Writing Award program, and although he didn’t win first prize, he did receive an offer of publication from the university press.

Bardenwerper, who is pursuing a joint degree at Harvard Law School and the Kennedy School of Government, encouraged the students to be thankful for the opportunities St. Albans offers. And he surprised (and delighted) the oldest Upper Schoolers by admitting: “I don’t think I ever worked as hard as I did as an Upper School student. Nothing else has been as grueling.”
Located in Washington D.C.,  St. Albans School is a private, all boys day and boarding school. For more than a century, St. Albans has offered a distinctive educational experience for young men in grades 4 through 12. While our students reach exceptional academic goals and exhibit first-rate athletic and artistic achievements, as an Episcopal school we place equal emphasis upon moral and spiritual education.