Spotlight on Presidential Scholar Award Recipient Cacilia Regner

January 23, 2023

Cacilia Regner is first year student in CEU’s Culture, Politics and Society BA program (CPS). She is originally from Austria and, in addition to her studies, works at the Austrian Presseclub Concordia in Vienna.  

What does this honor mean for you?

I was really surprised and honored to receive this award. I can see already that it's helping me to pursue my vision for my academic life and work-life. I'm able to focus not only on my professional work where I am earning wages, but can also participate in my studies because I have the financial aid. I'm working at the Austrian Presseclub which is an institution independent from the state to protect press freedom. I'm the evening host and also part of the team organizing the annual ball.

My other work is a platform called PolEdu which stands for political education. It is a team of ten young people trying to establish better standards of political education in Austria. I believe that political education is relatively underrepresented in the Austrian school system, so in addition to developing social media content about the different topics, we also go into schools and hold workshops on topics such as journalism and democracy to augment the education.

What was your route to CEU?

It was really important to me to study in an international environment. I was planning to go abroad to the United States like many other people studying CPS. I wanted to study the liberal arts, so after I graduated from high school, I took a gap year to search for the best education option for me. At the same time, I started working for different institutions and discovered I really like being here and have many connections in Austria.

CEU turned out to be the perfect option. I strongly connected with the mission and the vision of the university, and it provides access for people who don't have the same socio-economic ability to enter the academic elite and such an intellectual atmosphere. I was very aligned with that and thought it is a great place to study liberal arts and gain an interdisciplinary education. It is diverse, I can really participate in the classes and the teachers know me.

What drives you in your work?

For my generation, I feel that when one sees problems or issues that the world is facing, you want to get engaged and do something. For me political education is a really important tool to tackle these issues since politics are a playground for our decision-making bodies in society. I try to go to different events and engage in conversations with politicians because have the opportunity to make new connections, broaden my horizon and make an impact. It's cliché, but you really have to find your passion for a topic, and then you're able to establish more steps to get to your goal. Currently I'm on a path to establishing access to political education and CEU is helping me in this.

What do you hope for in during your BA program at CEU?

I'm not yet sure if I will do the three- or four-year program, but I would like to go abroad. Right now, I am applying myself to make change through politics, so I need to participate and raise awareness in our civil society. The environment and people at CEU foster different viewpoints coming together in one classroom through debate. Everyone has some shared values being at the university, but the variety of perspectives help us understand each other and form new ideas. I'm really grateful that I can study at CEU.

What else would you like to express?

I feel like there's so much potential regarding scholarship opportunities for the undergraduate programs. I’m truly grateful for this support. CEU stands for an open society in which everyone can take part and have this kind of education, so I hope scholarships like this will make it more accessible for those who don't have the financial stability.

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.