With the drive and determination of an open water ultra-marathon swimmer, Edie Markovich is propelling her way to becoming a professor in philosophy.
“My professors [in philosophy] have changed my perspective on life in such a beautiful way. I want to be able to do that for others and open their mind to all that is possible,” says Markovich, who is one of the youngest graduates in the Class of 2023 at Cal State LA.
Applying the same focus and persistence when she swims to her academic pursuit, the 17-year-old Toluca Lake resident completed her university degree in three years and is getting closer to becoming a university professor.
A Dean’s List student, she earned a Bachelor of Science in Philosophy with a minor in classics from Cal State LA’s College of Arts and Letters this spring. She graduated with summa cum laude honors during the Cal State LA Commencement ceremony on May 23.
“Edie Markovich is a truly remarkable person. Not only is she a very talented philosopher, but she’s a world-class swimmer as well,” says David Pitt, professor and chair of the university’s Department of Philosophy. “She excelled as an undergraduate in our department, and we very much look forward to having her in our M.A. program beginning this fall.”
At the age of 14, Markovich was admitted to Cal State LA through the Early Entrance Program. The program, which has accepted highly gifted students as young as 11 years old, is administered by the university’s Honors College.
Markovich expressed appreciation for the university for giving her an early start in higher education and supporting her through her academic journey.
“Cal State LA has provided an amazing education in philosophy and a supportive campus community,” she says. “Every day I experience something new, and every philosophical discovery is beyond exciting!”
Markovich has always been interested in philosophy. She is enticed by the study of ideas, reasons and issues, along with the quest for “a comprehensive understanding of the world.”
“To me, swimming is like philosophy,” she says. “During my long swims, I connect with the ocean in a very unique way. And it is that feeling that keeps me coming back.”
Markovich recalls that Fyodor Dostoevsky’s book, Crime and Punishment, helped affirm her decision to major in philosophy. She was fascinated by the author’s applications of philosophical themes in the novel.
But she was initially impressed by philosophers Heraclitus or Plato, saying “the Ancient Greeks have continued to inspire me from the very beginning.”
To further her interest, Markovich became involved with the Philosophy Club on campus, where she served as president. Under her leadership, she helped organize philosophical discussions and guest lectures that were open to students in all academic disciplines. The club has also co-hosted department events and voter registration activities.
She has recently been working to establish an official Minorities and Philosophy (MAP) chapter at Cal State LA. The nonprofit organization aims to address structural injustices in academic philosophy and to remove barriers that impede participation in academic philosophy for members of marginalized groups.
Markovich started her own nonprofit organization called Outswimming Hunger, where she swam 25 miles continuously to support those who need food assistance. She raised funds to feed over 30,000 people at the Burbank Temporary Aid Center through the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank. She plans to coordinate the swim-food drive again later this year.
Markovich is the youngest swimmer and the first woman to swim the 35-mile stretch from mainland Croatia to Vis, the furthest island in the Dalmatian archipelago. When she was 15, she was the youngest swimmer to complete the 20 Bridges swim, a 28.5-mile circumnavigation swim around Manhattan Island in New York City.
Markovich’s latest history-making long-distance swim connected her to the origins of marathon swimming, which trace back to Hydna of Scione and her father Scyllias, who were both skilled swimmers and divers, she says. The route took her off the coast of Mount Pelion toward Evia Island of Greece.
“Last summer, I became the second woman, aside from Hydna, to swim this original history-making route, over 2,500 years later,” she says.
As she gears up for her next open water swim adventure, Markovich is looking forward to starting the master’s program in philosophy at Cal State LA in August. Her plan is eventually to complete a Ph.D. in philosophy.
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California State University, Los Angeles is the premier comprehensive public university in the heart of Los Angeles. Cal State LA is ranked number one in the United States for the upward mobility of its students. Cal State LA is dedicated to engagement, service, and the public good, offering nationally recognized programs in science, the arts, business, criminal justice, engineering, nursing, education, and the humanities. Founded in 1947, the University serves more than 26,000 students and has more than 250,000 distinguished alumni.
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