UO junior awarded Phi Beta Kappa scholarship

Charles Petrik, a UO junior double majoring in Global Studies and Geography, has been awarded the “Key into Public Service” scholarship by the prestigious honors society Phi Beta Kappa.

Headshot of Charles Petrik against leafy background

Petrik will use the $5,000 scholarship award to support his summer work in Medellin, Colombia, where he will be an intern at the Alcaldía de Medellín, the city’s local government. He will also participate in a conference hosted in Washington D.C. that provides training, mentoring, and reflection in public service.

“Opportunities such as these tend to be expensive, especially for someone like myself who relies on scholarships to fund their school,” Petrik said. “However, with this funding I will be able to go with Columbia more financial security, learn about development in the country and increase my fluency in Spanish!”

The “Key into Public Service” scholarship is designed to support students studying arts, humanities, natural sciences, social sciences, and mathematics as they explore the pursuit of rewarding careers in local, state, and federal government. 

Petrik is one of 20 recipients of the scholarship this year, out of more than 900 applicants across the country. It’s the second year in a row that a UO student has received the scholarship, after Nayantara Arora, a neuroscience major, was awarded it last year. The UO is home to the oldest Oregon chapter of the Phi Beta Kappa Society. Petrik’s academic record has also earned him an invitation to become a member of the society, as part of the Junior class of 2024, and he will be initiated at the Alpha of Oregon’s 101st Induction Ceremony.    

Petrik was assisted throughout the scholarship application and endorsement process by the Office of Distinguished Scholarships, which provides comprehensive advising and guidance to UO students and recent alumni who wish to apply for competitive national and international scholarships and fellowships.

“At first, I was really surprised,” Petrik said of being selected for the award. “As is common, I was skeptical that I would make it through the over 900 applicants that put in for this opportunity, but this has been, in a sense, reaffirming recognition to receive.

Petrik, an Oregon native from Silverton who was his high school valedictorian, is attending the UO with the support of a Presidential Scholarship. He’s a member of the Clark Honors College and was selected to be a Wayne Morse Scholar.

During his time at UO, Petrik has researched a number of international subjects, including the impacts of pipelines and mines on Bolivian indigenous peoples and the environment, geopolitical issues in the Balkans, and global social movements and activism.

Outside the classroom, Petrik was chosen to participate in the Oxford Consortium for Human Rights program and has become the first ever UO student to participate in the McDonald Conference for Leaders of Character at the United States Military Academy at West Point. 

Petrik says he sees his long-term career in the field of diplomacy, helping to create connections between global actors and communities. 

“I have always valued learning in journey thus far, so am seeking a Peace Corps service and graduate degree in international relations or geography in between now and my professional life,” he said. “Who knows where these adventures will take me? But I know that I want to serve not only the U.S. public but international publics as well.”

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