Feature Stories Campus Events All Stories

W&L Alumnus Wins Cooke Graduate Scholarship

Washington and Lee University alumnus Adam Hockensmith has become the first W&L graduate to win a prestigious Jack Kent Cooke Graduate Scholarship.

Hockensmith, a 2008 graduate of Washington and Lee, is one of 30 students selected from an international applicant pool of about 700. The Cooke Scholarship will provide him with up $300,000 toward his graduate study at Yale Law School, which he will enter in the fall.

Since his graduation from W&L in June 2008, Hockensmith has lived and worked in Japan, teaching in the Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme.

“The Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship means a tremendous amount to me, because it allows me the financial freedom to tailor my education to my aspirations without worrying about the crushing burden of debt that many students face in today’s world,” said Hockensmith, who majored in philosophy and politics at W&L.

“Yale Law is already at the forefront of legal education in reducing the impact that debt has on a graduate’s ability to pursue his or her dreams,” he said. “But the Cooke Scholarship takes this freedom several steps further in guaranteeing that I will graduate from Yale debt-free, and virtually unencumbered in the career choices that I can make.”

Hockensmith said that he hopes to gain a firm grounding in constitutional, international and corporate law while at Yale, while also exploring tax law and economics.

“One of my long-term goals is to shape law and public policy in the United States through scholarship and governmental service,” Hockensmith said. “In my work, I hope to ensure that our democratic process remains open and fair. I believe that the strength of our governmental institutions rests on an engaged and informed electorate, and that we must safeguard processes that promote effective representation. I also hope to address the interplay between domestic and international law, which is and will continue to be vital to American security and prosperity.”

Hockensmith credited his W&L faculty with providing him opportunities to explore academic debates about political equality and social justice. He hopes to continue exploring these arguments within a legal framework while at Yale.

“I owe tremendous thanks to the professors at Washington and Lee who encouraged my studies and mentored me for the past four years. The entire philosophy department — Lad Sessions, Melina Bell, James Mahon and Paul Gregory, along with Lesley Wheeler (English) and Eduardo Velasquez (politics) — offered guidance and superb teaching that allowed me to get where I am today.”

Hockensmith, whose home town is Hagerstown, Md., was a Phi Beta Kappa graduate who was a member of the Generals’ varsity wrestling team, a dorm counselor, the VIP Chair of Hillel, and a member of the VFIC Ethics Bowl team, among other activities as an undergraduate.

The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation is a private independent foundation dedicated to helping young people of exceptional promise reach their full potential through education. Established in 2000 by the estate of self-made billionaire Jack Kent Cooke, it focuses on high-achieving, lower-income students from middle school through graduate school. Headquartered in northern Virginia, the foundation has helped thousands of students nationally since opening its doors through individualized direct service programs, generous scholarships and grants to nonprofit organizations and educational institutions. With an endowment of $700 million, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation is one of the 100 largest private foundations in the U.S.