Thirty-four members of the class of 2018 were elected to the prestigious Phi Beta Kappa Society Feb. 15, wrote Chapter Administrator Mary Jo Foley in an email to The Herald. Founded in 1776, Phi Beta Kappa is the oldest academic honors organization in the United States, Foley wrote. Brown’s chapter — the Rhode Island Alpha chapter of Phi Beta Kappa — is the seventh oldest in the nation out of 286 chapters in existence.
Brown’s selection process is highly competitive. To be eligible for induction, juniors must take a minimum of 20 courses over five semesters at Brown University — no credits from another institution are accepted — and must earn at least eighteen grades of “A” or “S with distinction,” according to the Brown chapter’s website.
“No more than one-sixth of the undergraduate members of a graduating class shall be elected members,” according to the Laws of the Rhode Island Alpha chapter. Of all those chosen, no more than one third will be elected as juniors.
The Rhode Island Alpha chapter inducts members three times annually: juniors in Feb., seniors in April and senior recipients who transferred to Brown as juniors in late May. Individuals cannot apply for membership and the Rhode Island Alpha chapter does not accept any letters of recommendation, nomination or support. Inductees were notified by Foley in an email sent out Thursday.
Katelynn Pan ’18 was not cognizant of the Phi Beta Kappa organization prior to her induction.
“I just found out today — I was really surprised and did not expect it,” Pan said. “My closest friends were excited. And my family was happy too.”
Jacob Laden-Guindon ’18 was similarly shocked to discover that he was a new member of the exclusive honor society. “At first I thought it was a joke because the initials looked like a fraternity — a fraternity elected me to be a member? That’s not how it works,” Laden-Guindon said.
Though he initially thought the email to be a scam, Laden-Guidon later researched Phi Beta Kappa and voiced his excitement over the news.
“It still hasn’t sunk in fully because it caught me so off guard, and I was not expecting something like this,” Laden-Guindon said. “It was a fun little piece of news to get.”