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Senior Earns Robinson Award

Posted on Friday, May 13, 2011

Brett Glavey, a Westminster College senior sociology major, is one of eight students nationwide who received a 2011 Samuel Robinson Award from the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

The award is open to Presbyterian students completing their junior or senior year at a Presbyterian-related college or university.  It was created from a gift made to promote the memorization of the Westminster Shorter Catechism from The Book of Confessions.

In addition to memorizing and reciting the 123 questions and answers of the catechism, each applicant must submit a 2,000-word original essay on an assigned topic.  This year's essays focused on prayer by reflecting on specific aspects of the Shorter Catechism and discussing the effect of 21st-century technologies and worldviews on prayer.

Glavey's essay reflects his gratitude to God and to his parents for nurturing and caring for him from a very rocky start: born several months prematurely and weighing less than a pound-and-a-half, he was given only an eight percent chance of survival.

"When I look back at where I started, and I consider where I am now and the opportunities I have awaiting me in the future, I certainly feel a sense of joy," Glavey writes.  "I have a lot to be thankful for.  I try to live my life the best way I can and hopefully follow the path that God has laid out for me."

The essay also speaks to the connections between prayer and today's technology: "It truly amazes me the good that our 21st-century technology can do if it is used in an appropriate manner.  I take comfort in the fact that no matter where I am in the world, I can get online and be part of a community of Christians.  Whether I am involved with a group of less than 100 or one of more than one million, we can all come together in a time of prayer."

Glavey was mentored through the process by the Rev. Jim Mohr, Westminster chaplain.  Mohr suggested dividing the catechism into sections, making the memorization less overwhelming.  Mohr and his wife, Jill, provided proof-reading and feedback to help Glavey fine-tune the essay before submission.

"I would share with you how difficult it is just to complete the process," Mohr said.  "Either memorizing the catechism or writing the essay would be a big project, but these students have to do both.  Over the years, we've had a few students participate and Brett is only the second from Westminster to win it."

Glavey plans to use the $2,500 award toward a master's degree in social work at the University of Pittsburgh.  At some point in his future, he would like to return to Magee Women's Hospital, where he spent the first seven months of his life, as a neonatal social worker.

"I am very grateful to be one of the eight selected to win such a prestigious award," Glavey said.  "While the process was time-consuming and required a lot of hard work, it was certainly worth it in the end.  Even if I were not selected, I still feel it was a valuable learning experience."

Glavey is a son of Richard and Jeanne Glavey of Sharpsville, a graduate of Sharpsville High School, and a member of First Presbyterian Church in Sharpsville under the leadership of the Rev. Lori Cotton.  He is a Young Presbyterian Scholar at Westminster.

Contact Mohr at (724) 946-7116 or email for additional information.

Brett Glavey