Agata Bak's Story
Agata Bak, age 23, Warsaw, Poland
Agata, who spent three years at the University of Granada in Spain after receiving a grant by the Spanish Embassy to study there, is now studying in Madrid after receiving a special scholarship to study one year in any Spanish university. She lost her major means of support, however, a social state grant, because of a change in law, and therefore needs extra support to continue; the Guthrie award will provide her with that extra support.
Agata is studying philosophy, her passion. She has a long history of connections with Spain, through going there as a child for an international PKU camp and gradually learning to speak the language until she passed the entrance exam to the bilingual Spanish-Polish school in Warsaw, Poland in 2000. She was the first in her class to pass the Superior Exam (diploma in Spanish at an advanced level). She participated in a "National Olympics of Philosophy" competition between schools all over the country and won second place.
When she finished school, Agata received a Prime Minister’s Grant for the best pupils in Warsaw. During her time in Granada, she received several special scholarships to enable her to research a philosophical issue and to help other students with their exams. She and her professors of Philosophy organized seminars dedicated to contemporary philosophers. A top student, after her final year in Granada it is no surprise that she plans to go on for her PhD. Says one of her professors, "Agata has superior intellectual skills. She possesses high analytical and synthetic capacity and she has an outstanding skill to put in relation different issues. Her participation and interest in philosophy show her great intellectual vocation and I am proud to say that she belongs to a group of very distinguished students. In addition, she is creative, social, and kind."
Agata says: "My future? Many people say that if you graduate in philosophy the only thing you can do is to be a teacher. I do not think so! I am interested in philosophy of the mind, as I consider that in the field of neuroscience a wide approach is required, with collaboration among specialists in psychology, linguistics, biology, and philosophy. I am mainly interested in philosophy as a rational partner for the dialogue with sciences and am trying to keep updated with physics and biology." She also is thinking about possibly becoming a translator (Spanish into Polish) to promote the philosophical heritage of both countries. Recently, she had an opportunity to use her skills by translating a philosophical article from Spanish into English, which will soon be published in the US publication, Journal of History of Ideas.
For five years, Agata was a member of Amnesty International in Warsaw, including time as the coordinator of the national network focusing on the problem of human rights in China. After returning to Poland for several months in 2006, she also participated in a project granted by the European Union focused on human rights issues. She also enjoys her work with the Polish Club of Friends of Camino de Santiago. She has walked all over the Spanish coast, guided by the Camino de Santiago, almost 800 km (480 miles), having a pack of PKU food sent to her at various post offices throughout her walk. (She repeated this adventure 4 more times, walking though Spain and Portugal!).
Agata says, "I am proud to be living proof that an appropriate diet and parents’ care can make one able not only to live a so-called "normal life" (an expression I hate, in fact) but also to achieve anything I want to. . .” When it comes to the diet she says, "I have learned to affirm my needs strongly and have no problem with having my formula anywhere: in a bar, at the university, in the ‘tube’ (underground transportation). . . I have never considered PKU as an illness. On the contrary, it has opened up many new possibilities and has never been an obstacle for my plans."
Last update: July 2009