Understanding the layers of the human condition is complicated. The stories of life and the exploration of questions that define societies and drive personal decision can be fraught with tragedy, dead ends and little closure. 

But it’s these challenges that have driven Patrick Wohlscheid, a double major in English and philosophy at the College of Charleston, to undertake several research projects examining difficult questions about slavery, the literary and ethical exploration of monstrosity and aesthetic debates about obscurity and rhetoric in poetry. 

“There’s definitely a strong connection between philosophy and English,” says Wohlscheid. “I think that’s partly where my research comes in. I am trying to figure out how philosophy and literature interact. Obviously they’re different, but I think that they have qualities that supplement each other. And exploring one in the context of the other can reveal a lot of interesting things about both.” 

His passion and curiosity about the literary and philosophical examination of life has led Wohlscheid to receive several scholarships to support his research. He is a two-time recipient of the Tomo Cook Scholarship, which supports philosophy majors. He is also a recipient of the Macy Ezell Cooke Scholarship, which supports English majors. And the South Carolina Humanities Council has awarded Wohlscheid a scholarship, further supporting his studies. 

The Tomo Cook Scholarship honors CofC philosophy major Tomo Cook who passed away in 2007 just months from graduation. Cook was an avid enthusiast of all things that engaged and challenged the human spirit and his family created the scholarship to support future philosophy majors who exhibit that same enthusiasm. The Macy Ezell Cooke Scholarship is in memory of Macy Ezell Cooke, a lifelong South Carolinian who was dedicated to education and literature. Cooke’s daughter and son-in-law, Sally Cooke Christian and James D. Christian ’97 (M.P.A. ’00), created the scholarship to continue her legacy. 

Besides the financial help that the Tomo Cook and Macy Ezell Cooke scholarships offer, Wohlscheid says these types of scholarships really encourage students to pursue their interests and push themselves farther. 

“It is great to be able to have some confirmation that the work I really enjoy doing is also acknowledged by others as interesting or important in some way,” says Wohlscheid, who is the managing editor of Miscellany, the College’s student-produced literary and arts journal. “I don’t think that I would have sought out other opportunities like submitting an essay for the Emerson Society Papers, expanding pieces for undergraduate research journals or presenting at the Johns Hopkins Macksey Humanities Symposium without the encouragement these scholarships provided.”  

With his confidence bolstered, Wohlscheid plans to pursue a graduate degree in English after he completes his bachelor’s degrees this spring. He knows his goal of finding a place in the world of academia will be challenging, but he isn’t one to shy away from tough pursuits. He says it’s the value of embracing something important to him that matters most. 

“With the way the world is now, I think that honestly, it’s just important to pursue something that you enjoy and feel enriches your life and makes you a well-rounded person,” he says. 

And that’s a philosophy worth exploring.