Announcing our 2014 Scholarship Recipient—Davit Ksor

June 2014

Davit Ksor, a senior in the Chicago Public Schools who will begin studies at the University of Illinois this fall, has been awarded the 2014 PBKACA Scholarship. We are delighted to help this intelligent and determined young man to achieve his own goals.

Davit provided PBKACA with the following letter:

Dear Ms. Strauss-Lipkin and members of the Phi Beta Kappa Association of Chicago:

Please accept my profound gratitude for choosing me as a 2014 recipient of the Phi Beta Kappa Award given to one graduating senior in the Chicago Public Schools. This generous stipend offers peace of mind that is difficult to describe because it is so badly needed. Equally important is the honor the award offers because of its source. I am keenly aware that the Phi Beta Kappa Society has represented the pinnacle of intellectual achievement for more than two centuries and arose from the initiative of students who came of age during the American Revolution. That’s humbling, and the award inspires me to dedicate myself to showing my own initiative to uphold the Society’s high standards.

Coming to the U.S. as a five-year-old refugee from Vietnam, I went through my own revolution as I adjusted with difficulty to learning English, making friends, and figuring out the customs of American children. My parents were not able to be a bridge to our new culture. Although they also were challenged by their new lives in this country, they knew that I was their future, and they insisted that I exhibit perfect behavior and study hard. They seemed to know that if I absorbed the positive aspects of our new nation—free education and the chance to develop my talents—I would prosper and they would too.

I tried to follow what my parents said, not only out of respect but also to ensure their health. You see, both my parents are disabled. My father has only one leg, and my mother’s body is scarred from an accident. These circumstances pushed me to adapt to American life as quickly as possible to be my parents’ bridge to the benefits of this great nation. I must say that America has proven to us that it is truly the land of opportunity. I never thought that after only thirteen years here, I could win such a large and prestigious scholarship. As my parents expected, I have studied hard and enjoyed considerable academic success, but this city has so many amazing high school students that I am deeply appreciative for the Phi Beta Kappa Society having selected me. Once again, thank you.

I will be going to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to study physics. I seek to follow in the footsteps of physicists—some great and some unknown—who have given us every technological breakthrough of this century and the one just ended, affecting the lives of people all over the world. My goal is to contribute significantly to the creation of new sources of energy so that the human race can stop relying on a finite supply of decayed animals and plants. I know from my origins in Vietnam, which has limited sources of energy, how frightening it is not to have enough power to improve the lives of its people. No country is immune from the threat of insufficient resources, both natural and manufactured. I want to help provide the world with energy to help solve one of the world’s most urgent problems. When I manage to achieve this, and when I am asked who helped me make it possible, I will say, “The generous people at Phi Beta Kappa.” Thank you for your belief in my talents.

With utmost gratitude,
Davit Ksor