Patrick Hovakimian of Walnut Creek, a senior politics major at Occidental College, has won a prestigious Marshall Scholarship to pursue postgraduate studies at Oxford University next fall.
He is the eighth Occidental student since 1972 to be granted the prize.
“I am honored to receive this award and be a part of Oxy’s tradition of success with the Marshall Scholarship,” said Hovakimian, a 2001 graduate of Northgate High School. “I look forward to spending a few years in Britain building on my foundation in political theory, then returning to the United States to pursue a law degree.”
The scholarship pays up to $60,000 over two years. Hovakimian will work toward a master’s degree in philosophy at Oxford. He hopes to ultimately become an attorney with the Department of Justice, where his goal is to reform the civil justice system.
“I have found that in many pockets of this nation, whether urban, rural or in-between, conceptions of equality and the good life assume varying forms,” Hovakimian said. “Our policymakers have allowed time, place and circumstance to purloin the place of reasoned judgment. I’ve encountered too many instances where substantial, yet manageable, tensions and strife were neglected due to legislative constraints and political motivations.”
Up to 40 Marshall Scholarships are awarded each year to American citizens who have graduated from a four-year college or university. The scholarships were founded by an act of Parliament in 1953 to commemorate the humane ideals of the Marshall Plan – the American program to rebuild a ravaged Western Europe following World War II.
In March, Hovakimian won a highly competitive Truman Scholarship, a $26,000 prize given to college juniors who demonstrate exceptional leadership skills and plan to use those skills in public service careers. Hovakimian has served in the Associated Students of Occidental College Senate and has worked for the U.S. Department of Justice Community Relations Service. The federal office mediates community conflicts and tensions arising from differences in race, color and national origin.
This summer, through a grant from the Lilly Endowment, Hovakimian conducted an intensive research project in which he read lengthy political theory texts, evaluated arguments and forecast the implications of a given theory on current public policy.