Last spring Nikolas Oktaba, a Fordham College at Lincoln Center, (FCLC) junior majoring in classical civilizations and classical languages, learned that he’d won one of 20 prestigious Beinecke Scholarships, which would allow him to continue his studies in graduate school.
On Oct. 24, it was made official, as Thomas Parkinson, Ph.D., program director for the Sperry Fund, which administers the scholarship, formally made the announcement in the office of FCLC Dean Robert Grimes, S.J.
The scholarship includes $30,000 for studies at a yet-to-be-determined graduate school and another $4,000 to cover the cost of applications.
Also on hand for the event were Fordham faculty members Andrew Clark, Ph.D., associate professor of French and comparative literature, Anne Golumb Hoffman Ph.D., professor of English, and Mary Shelley, assistant director of prestigious fellowships at Lincoln Center.
The awards were established in 1971 by the Board of Directors of the Sperry & Hutchinson Company in honor of Edwin, Frederick, and Walter Beinecke. Parkinson said that he makes a point to present the scholarships in person.
“It gives me a chance to get out and meet all these wonderful and talented people,” said Parkinson. “The family believes that rather than just give the students the money and say good luck, they really want a more involved relationship.
“One of the nice things about doing this is you work with really quality people. I’m sure that wherever Nicholas is accepted, he will find that he’ll do well,” he said.
Oktaba said the scholarship commitment was of “existential importance” to the liberal arts. He thanked Parkinson for supporting his plan to study how ancient people’s social construction of painful questions of identity had an impact on life in late antiquity.
“I would like to show people that the classics are more than lifeless ruins and broken statuary,” he said. “I would like to give students the ability to engage with these sometimes painful questions of gender, sexuality, and identity as a whole, in a deeper, more meaningful manner.”