The Walter Odajnyk Scholarship

“Every perspective on the nature of reality or on the nature of the psyche is mythological.”

—V. Walter Odajnyk


About the Scholarship 

Inspired by the legacy of Walter Odajnyk, a scholarship fund was established in 2015 for students in the Mythological Studies program, to help defray the considerable expense of this undertaking.

As he shared with his students, Walter envisioned a future in which the evening news team would include a mythologist providing commentary on the day’s events.

To highlight the relevance of myth in the world today, the Odajnyk Scholarship is awarded annually for an essay expressing how a mythological understanding could shed light on or help resolve a current domestic or international situation.

Written as a letter to a public official, or as a press release for a media outlet, essays are judged on the quality of writing and the insightful application of mythology to a current event. All students enrolled in Pacifica’s Mythological Studies program are eligible to apply. This is a nonrenewable scholarship.


Myth in the World
In myriad ways, mythologists are uniquely prepared to contribute to the world. Meet a few of Pacifica’s Myth grads at work today:

Kwame Scruggs, Ph.D. Founder and Executive Director of Alchemy Inc. “We use mythological storytelling, drumming, and mentorship to assist ur – ban adolescent males develop a sense of life purpose.” Dr. Scruggs accepted the 2012 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award from First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House on November 19th, 2012, for his work using myths, journal writing and drum – ming to empower urban youth.

Andrea Deerheart, Ph.D., CLE Founder, The HeartWay Mythology discloses layers of truths about death, as relevant now as they were to our ancestors. The HeartWay: Embracing Life. Honoring Death is inspired by mythic imagination to help to return the sanctity of death, by arousing psyche, imagination, and compassion. “May the dying be free to imagine, experience, and live in death, thus allowing both the living and dying the opportunity to face, embrace, and be present to life.”

Colette Kavanagh, Ph.D. Consultant “In my work as a Cultural Psychologist in the Netherlands, I look at the myths, beliefs and values of the culture to see what keeps it stuck or moves it forward.” Dr. Kavanagh specializes in the process of transforming, rather than discarding, outmoded traditions and practices. Her work is applied in many areas of society, including business and governmental institutions.

Stephen Wilkerson, M.D., Ph.D.  Stephen teaches mythology through continuing education courses to seniors, in such programs as Road Scholar and Chautauqua. He has led classes on The Iliad and The Odyssey, and will soon offer one on The Aeneid. “I particularly enjoy sharing myths with older folks. They have the life experience to make these stories so vividly come alive!”

Laura Marshall, Ph.D. Artist and Teacher “The arts of cultures throughout the world are a living, continually flowing ancestral current, inspiring and nourishing those of us living in the present. As artists, we continue the work begun by our ancestors. I venture into what is not yet born, calling to the invisible world to reveal its stories, and to unfold the wisdom and luminosity curled immanently in its heart.”


Myth is All Around Us 

No matter how you view the world, you view it through a mythic lens. This is the human way. From ancient through contemporary times, we find meaning through our stories, practices, and beliefs. To study mythology from a depth psychological perspective is an illuminating, life-changing experience. “The depth psychologist is generally concerned with how the fantasies or wishes of the unconscious affect the personality and behavior of a single human being. The mythologist, by contrast, is interested in how the fantasies appear in the wider community and affect that community’s perception of itself and its surrounding world.” (Odajnyk “Naropa Dakini”) Pacifica Graduate Institute offers the only doctoral program in the country dedicated to the exploration of humanity through the interdisciplinary and multicultural study of myth, ritual, literature, art, and religion. Pacifica’s Mythological Studies Program cultivates scholarship, self-inquiry, and imagination in those who seek to understand and express the depths of the psyche. 

Dr. Odajnyk was core faculty in the Mythological Studies program at Pacifica Graduate Institute. Author and Jungian analyst, Dr. Odajnyk was also a diplomate of the C.G. Jung Institute in Zurich.


Please Give 

Your tax-deductible contribution to the Walter Odajnyk Scholarship Fund provides direct support to Pacifica students tending to the soul of the world through myth. You can make a donation today at:

The Pacifica Graduate Institute Alumni Association (PGIAA) a 501(c)(3) organization is proud to administer the Dr. V. Walter Odajnyk Scholarship. For additional information, please call our office at 805.679-6163 or e-mail

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