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Phi Beta Kappa elects 139 seniors

Chapter focusing on making the society more inclusive by changing election procedures, eligibility requirements this summer

On May 5, three days after commencement, 139 graduated seniors were elected to the University’s Phi Beta Kappa chapter, wrote Julie Plaut, assistant dean of the college & director of Engaged Scholarship and the chapter’s secretary, in an email to The Herald. Phi Beta Kappa is considered the oldest academic honors society in the United States, founded in 1776, and “encourages intellectual distinction among undergraduates by recognizing outstanding academic accomplishment,” according to the University’s website.

Each academic year, the University’s chapter usually holds three elections: one in February to elect juniors, one in April to elect seniors and another in May to elect seniors who transferred to the University as juniors.

But this year, all elected seniors were notified of their status before the list of juniors was finalized by the chapter. Plaut said the delay in junior elections is due to the chapter board’s decision to assess “its eligibility guidelines and election procedures with a diversity, equity and inclusion lens,” leading electors to reconvene later in the summer to finalize the list of elected juniors. She added that the results of the senior election already reflect their commitment to elect more students than it typically has in the past. Last year, 110 seniors were elected in the spring, and in 2019, the chapter elected 109 seniors.

According to the election procedures for the Rhode Island Alpha of Phi Beta Kappa chapter, no more than one sixth of the University’s graduating class can be elected. While 1,563 seniors graduated earlier this month, the chapter elected just under one eleventh of the class, or roughly 121 fewer students than the maximum number.

The University’s chapter also changed their eligibility criteria for its elections this year by removing the requirement to offset every “C” grade with an “A” and no longer requiring seniors to have been enrolled for consecutive semesters, according to chapter president Richard Rambuss. Students still must have completed a minimum of twenty-eight courses over seven semesters and have received at least twenty-three grades of “A” or “S with distinction” by the end of their seventh semester, according to the chapter’s election procedures. Rambuss added that changing the chapter’s requirements to be more inclusive is something they are “deeply committed to and will continue to work on.”

Many students were surprised to hear about their election to the Phi Beta Kappa chapter following their graduation.

Joe Sciales ’21 was convinced he hadn’t been elected after not hearing any news about it sooner.

“I knew my transcript wasn’t perfect, so it was really a surprise,” Sciales said, adding that he felt that his election showed that you can still achieve Phi Beta Kappa status after a “less than ideal start” at Brown.

Marlon Sherman ’21 had not been actively working towards Phi Beta Kappa status but was “humbled and honored” when receiving the news. “With the whirlwind spring semester it was kind of in the back of my mind but after graduation came and went, I wasn’t really expecting it,” he said.

Eliza Edwards-Levin ’21 was pleasantly surprised to find she had been elected, since she “always focused on doing the best she could in college.” While she doubts she will attend any of the organization’s networking events, Edwards-Levin wants to be able to officially list the honor on her resume in anticipation of graduate school applications.

For Evie Hidysmith ’21, the award did not seem like a worthwhile symbol of her growth and learning at Brown, and she doesn’t plan to accept the invitation to join the chapter. “I think the point of school is to learn, not to put something fancy on my resume,” she said. “(School) is supposed to change the way I think about my reality and give me the power to change it, and Brown gave me all those things — I don’t need to be part of a society to get that.”

Those elected are as follows:

Sara Alavi ’21
Samahria Alpern ’21
Melissa Alvarez ’21
Melanie Anaya ’21
Sarah Ashe ’21
Morgan Awner ’21
Matthew Bailey ’21
Roxanne Barnes ’21
Isabelle Belleza ’21
Hughes Benjamin ’21
Jeremy Berman ’21
Ivy Bernstein ’21
Zsofia Biegl ’21
Luqmaan Bokhary ’21
Ilana Brandes-Krug ’21
Dalia Bresnick ’21
Alanna Brown ’21
Khail Bryant ’21
John Calvelli ’21
Isabella Cavicchi ’21
Christopher Chiah ’21
Mea Chiasson ’21
Marian Chudnovsky ’21
Keiko Cooper-Hohn ’21
Abigail Creighton ’21
Alexander Dorosin ’21
Eliza Edwards-Levin ’21
Nathan Elbaum ’21
Jeanne Ernest ’21
Annelise Ernst ’21
Marysol Fernandez Harvey ’21 (former Herald staff columnist)
Benjamin Fink ’21
James Flynn ’21 (former Herald staff columnist)
Halle Fowler ’21
Ethan Franzblau ’21
Natalie Fredman ’21
Lucas Fried ’21
Samantha Gable ’21
Anh-Lise Gilbert ’21
Eleni Gkini ’21
Rowan Gledhill ’21
Madeline Greenberg ’21
Clara Greider ’21
Claire Heiden ’21
Evie Hidysmith ’21
Rebecca Ho ’21
Ava Holl ’21
Carlie Houser ’21
Kristin Howell ’21
Kyra Hu ’21
Annabelle Hutchinson ’21
Niharika Jhingan ’21
Jinette Jimenez ’21
Maia Johngren ’21
Paul Kalandiak ’21
Abigail Kelly ’21
Nalini Khurana ’21
Audrey Kim ’21
Chihye Kim ’21
Claire Kim-Narita ’21
Zachary Kligler ’21
Kathryn Kovarik ’21
Alina Kulman ’21
Emma Kumleben ’21
Leah Lam ’21
Grayson Lee ’21 (former Herald senior staff writer)
Dylan Letellier ’21
Nicholas Lindseth ’21
Matthew Litman ’21
Claudia Liu ’21
Jacob Lockwood ’21 (former Herald special projects coordinator)
Miya Lohmeier ’21
Elisabeth Lualdi ’21
Laura MacKenzie ’21
Caitlin Malimban ’21
Divya Maniar ’21 (former Herald senior staff writer)
John Mazlish ’21
Ava McEnroe ’21
Emely Medina ’21
Kahini Mehta ’21
Sandra Moore ’21
Sarah Nathanson ’21
Cal Oberlander ’21
Isabelle Olive ’21
Andrew Olivo ’21
Olusemilore Oloko ’21
Charlotte Oster ’21
Emily Papiez ’21
Junewoo Park ’21
Anna Katherine Pasnau ’21
Julia Pew ’21
Stefan Peyron ’21
Nhu Phung ’21
Melanie Pincus ’21 (former Herald special projects coordinator)
Sofija Podvisocka ’21
Joseph Reindl ’21
Daniel Ritter ’21
Adriana Rodriguez ’21
Ella Rosenblatt ’21
Oscar Rousseau ’21
Elise Ryan ’21 (former Herald senior editor)
Francesca Sabel ’21
Yelena Nicolle Salvador ’21
Vaishnavi Sankar ’21
Sarah Saxe ’21
Allison Schaum ’21
David Scherrer ’21
Gabriel Schillinger-Hyman ’21
Joseph Sciales ’21
Harry Seabrook ’21
Nikita Shah ’21
Audrey Shapiro ’21
Marlon Sherman ’21
Olivia Siemens ’21
Ryan Simpson ’21
Emily Skahill ’21
Nicholas Smith ’21
Adam Stein ’21
Sumera Subzwari ’21
Kitri Sundaram ’21
Qiao Lyn Tan ’21
Sofia Thompson ’21
Sunil Tohan ’21
Lucien Turczan-Lipets ’21
Cal Turner ’21
Jillian Turner ’21
Erika Undeland ’21
John Van de Walle ’21
Sarah Van Horn ’21
William Walk ’21
Yashi Wang ’21
Zoe Weiss ’21
Abigail Wells ’21
Maeve Wiesen ’21
Rebekah Yang ’21
Parker Zane ’21
Yudu Zang ’21
Bryan Zhang ’21
Filippo Zinni ’21


Gaya Gupta

Gaya Gupta is the Senior Editor of Digital News. She previously covered diversity on campus. She is a junior from the San Francisco Bay Area studying computer science and English. 


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