Spotlight on Presidential Scholar Award Recipient: Max Petershagen

May 13, 2024

Max Petershagen, the recipient of a 2023-24 Presidential Scholarship, is a BA student in CEU’s Philosophy, Politics and Economics undergraduate program. CEU spoke with Petershagen, who is from Germany, to learn about his studies and path to CEU.    

What does this award mean to you?     

I am grateful to receive the scholarship. I understand it to be both a support but also a responsibility. It feels like a sign of trust and confidence in us as students. Through the scholarship, I’m also encouraged to connect with students at other program levels and plug into the broader community. The honor is a motivation to academically stay on top of things and also participate in civil society, which is connected to scholarship. 

What was your path to CEU?      

In my experience, CEU takes an approach of looking at each student individually. I find that the professors are not only interested in teaching, but also in incorporating feedback from the students. These factors are important for me. Also geographically, studying in Vienna means I don’t need to fly to university, which I care about from an environmental perspective. 

In addition to these aspects, CEU offers a Philosophy, Politics and Economics BA, which was a perfect match for me, this combination. Especially enriching so far has been my experience in the economics classes. I had not previously studied economics and I find the way the subject is taught at CEU to be very accessible. I am learning that I really value an economic perspective on the world and I am confident that it will play a role in my future education. Overall, the university ethics and the mission also influenced my decision to study here. 

What drives you in your work?  

I am driven by a desire to have some impact within the broader university community. I would like to be active and am exploring what areas need support and the perspective of a student, such as the student union. 

I'm also very much in the moment with pursuing my bachelor’s degree and am curious where it will lead. Academically, I am in my first year, so just getting started, and so far, I am enjoying the professors and classes.  

What are your thoughts on civic engagement?  

I think it is important to be engaged in politics. Climate change is always a big issue for me, and I participate in various political spheres in Vienna related to climate justice and interconnected issues. It is important that we, as students, participate together in these challenges, and even from our city level, there is a lot that can be done. 

What would you like to highlight for other students considering CEU?    

Something that I find to be particularly special about CEU faculty and staff is that they seem to take students very seriously. Even if we are younger and less experienced, they are respectful and friendly. I’m happy to be here and to be a part of this university, engaging with my fellow students and the professors. 


The Presidential Scholars Fund was established by Michael Ignatieff and Zsuzsanna Zsohar. It supports four Presidential Graduate Research Awards for exceptional master’s and Doctoral students whose research shows promise for the next generation. The Fund also awards two scholarships per year to incoming bachelor's students demonstrating exceptional academic credentials and leadership promise.