Sarah Onken Earns The Judith Finn Exemplary Master’s Graduate Award

Sarah Onken Earns The Judith Finn Exemplary Master’s Graduate Award

Written by Veronica Brooks

At the Hillsdale College Spring Academic Convocation on April 5, Sarah Onken was honored as the 2018 recipient of the Judith Finn Exemplary Master’s Graduate Award. The award was established by Dr. Michael Finn as a memorial of his wife Judith, who received her Master’s degree in political science from Michigan State University. Each year the award is presented to an outstanding student in the Van Andel Graduate School of Statesmanship who is earning a master’s degree that year.

After earning her M.A. in political science with a minor in economics, Judith Brengle Finn (1944-2015) enjoyed a successful career as a political scientist, which she left to become a full-time wife and mother. While teaching her two children to appreciate American history and the tradition of Western civilization, Judith continued her active political engagement. She served as a volunteer researcher for the conservative women’s organization Eagle Forum, wrote on the impact of Social Security on women, organized a conference on the topic of “comparable worth,” appeared on the news, and testified before several U.S. Congressional committees. The Finn award honors Judith’s love for the study of politics and her desire to benefit others in the body politic.

Each academic year the recipient of the Finn award is chosen by a faculty committee on the basis of the quality of the student’s thesis, their performance on the comprehensive or qualifying exam, and their overall performance in the graduate program.

This year’s recipient has a long-standing reputation at Hillsdale College for her hard work and love of learning. After graduating with her B.A. in mathematics and politics from Hillsdale, Sarah Onken entered the Van Andel Graduate School looking for a program that focused on both political theory and the American tradition. During her two years in the program, Sarah has excelled in her course work and is currently co-authoring an article with a senior faculty member in the politics department. Sarah will continue her work in the Ph.D. program after she earns her Master’s degree in politics this May.

Sarah’s primary research interests are John Locke and the relation between theology and politics. She loves to ponder the “fundamental human questions of justice and man’s relations to God and other men.” Sarah enjoys her classes and the opportunity to read and enter discussion with her professors and fellow graduate students on the great political thinkers, the human condition, and the nature of political life. In expressing her appreciation for her colleagues, Sarah said, “They push me to become sharper in my logic, more careful in my reading, and more knowledgeable in general. I’m greatly indebted to them.” In the future, Sarah hopes to teach and pass on her passion for learning to young students.


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