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With Prestigious Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship, Glenn Lacki '05 Is Headed for Oxford

Glenn Lacki '05

Glenn Lacki, who graduated from Oberlin this May, has received one of the largest American awards for graduate study—the Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship. The award, which can total up to $50,000 per year for up to six years, will allow him to pursue graduate work in classics and archaeology at the University of Oxford, a dream he says he has held since he first came to Oberlin.

Lacki is among the 76 graduate and professional students chosen for the scholarship in a nationwide selection process that drew nominees from more than 600 colleges and universities across the country.

"The recipients of scholarships from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, whose standards are exceptionally high, exemplify qualities we all admire, particularly that unique combination of ability and drive that sets some people apart," said Professor Laurie Kohn of the Georgetown University Law Center, who was a panelist.

The mission of the foundation is to help young people of exceptional promise who demonstrate financial need to reach their full potential through education. The foundation, a private, independent organization, was established in 2000 through the will of Jack Kent Cooke, former owner of NFL Washington Redskins and Los Angeles NBA Lakers and NHL Kings.

"Since I began studying classics at Oberlin, pursuing graduate work at Oxford has been a driving ambition," Lacki says. "Not knowing how I could pay for it, I still applied and was accepted, so when I received the call from the foundation, I was floored."

"I have taught many superb students in my 30 years at Oberlin, but none more brilliant than Glenn Lacki," says Thomas Van Nortwick, chair and professor of classics. "Along with his extraordinary intellectual accomplishments, his fierce devotion to learning, and his endless capacity for plain old hard work, I prize Glenn's determination to make what he learns an integral part of his search for self-knowledge. He is a wonderful example of Socrates' primary imperative:  Know thyself."

Lacki undertook three Oberlin majors: Greek language and literature, Latin language and literature, and English with a concentration in medieval languages and literature. He was an English department student-faculty liaison and a research assistant in archaeology and geology, and he tutored students in beginning and intermediate Latin and Greek. 

He spent the fall 2004 semester at the Intercollegiate Center for Classical Studies in Rome and saw his translation of "Iliad Book One 33-52: An Anglo-Saxon Heroic Epic Verse" appear in the spring 2004 issue of Ephemeris.

An integral part of his life at Oberlin, says Lacki, was the work he did as men's health coordinator at the Student Health Center. He also starred or held leading roles in several student productions and was a member of the Oberlin College Fencing Club, the Oberlin College Choir, the Oberlin College Men's Group, and the Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender Union.

A pivotal experience took place just before his junior year, when he participated in the Sangro Valley Project, a summer archaeological field school in Tornareccio, Italy. The project is conducted by Oberlin and the University of Oxford. Witnessing how the Oxford faculty taught and how their students responded, says Lacki, is what led him to apply to the university.

Teaching classics and archaeology at the college or university level while continuing field research in classical archaeology is Lacki's career goal. To accomplish it, he plans to pursue two degrees at Oxford: a one-year master of studies in Greek and Latin languages and literature and a two-year master of philosophy in classical archaeology.  He also intends to earn a doctorate in classics at Oxford or at a university in the United States.

Lacki credits his experience at Oberlin as an intrinsic factor in his receiving the award.

"I am who I am because of Oberlin and the people there who have transformed and become a part of my life, especially classics faculty members Kirk Ormand and Thomas Van Nortwick, and Jennifer Bryan in English," he says. "Without their guidance, I might have never found my calling or the courage to pursue it. This scholarship is as much a success for Oberlin as it is for me."

Lacki's reception of the Jack Kent Cooke scholarship is the latest in a succession of impressive awards and honors garnered by Oberlin students this year, among them seven Fulbrights, four Goldwaters, two Watsons, two Javits, and a Marshall.

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