Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.

Phi Beta Kappa elects 165 seniors, 47 juniors

Honor recipients discuss award

To qualify for Phi Beta Kappa, at least 40% of a candidate’s course work must take place in the humanities, arts, social sciences, cognitive linguistic & psychological sciences or public health.
To qualify for Phi Beta Kappa, at least 40% of a candidate’s course work must take place in the humanities, arts, social sciences, cognitive linguistic & psychological sciences or public health.

One hundred sixty-five graduating seniors, 47 juniors and one graduating PhD student were elected to the University’s chapter of Phi Beta Kappa on May 21 and April 3 respectively, according to announcements from Coppélia Kahn, professor emerita of English and chapter secretary.

An academic honors organization, Phi Beta Kappa was founded in 1776 according to its website. Over the last two years, the University’s chapter — Rhode Island Alpha —has rolled out changes. The chapter previously rescinded the requirement that every “C” grade must be counteracted with an “A” grade and removed a condition stating that eligible juniors and seniors remain enrolled for consecutive semesters, The Herald previously reported. 

According to Kahn, Rhode Island Alpha’s revised electoral process speaks to the chapter’s goal of electing 12% of the graduating class with the highest academic standing — 3% during their junior year, and 9% in their senior year. In the past, 10% of each graduating class was elected.

“We use the same measure of academic standing as the Registrar does when calculating magna cum laude honors,” Kahn explained. “The Executive Committee of the Alpha, consisting of five faculty or alumni who are officers of the society, conducts the election.”


“We have just completed the second year of running elections with these criteria, and we will be reviewing the results before going to our membership with a recommendation for making these criteria permanent,” she added.

To qualify for Phi Beta Kappa, at least 40% of a candidate’s course work must take place in the humanities, arts, social sciences, cognitive linguistic & psychological sciences or public health, Kahn said. Eligible seniors will have completed 28 courses with 23 grades of “A” or “S with Distinction” and eligible seniors will have completed 20 courses with 18 grades of “A” or “S with Distinction.” 

The award “recognizes dedication to excellence over the span of a college career,” Kahn said. “Given the distribution requirement, it also represents achievement in a liberal arts and sciences curriculum, in a spectrum of fields, rather than a single one.”

When Carina Sandoval ’23 first received an email from Phi Beta Kappa, she was initially skeptical.

“I had never heard of Phi Beta Kappa until I had gotten the initial email saying that I had been accepted,” she said. 

For Sandoval, her strongest points of pride and achievement at Brown were the contributions she made to the Providence and University communities through clubs and organizations.

“I remember going into my senior year and telling people that I didn't really want to pay attention to my academics this year” and that she would learn the most “from first-hand experience from the different organizations that I was involved in,” she said. “But now thinking back on it, I think that maybe it was because of this huge fear I had surrounding academia and whether or not I was the right fit for it.”

When she arrived at Brown from a public school in Chicago, Sandoval said she grappled with unrelenting imposter syndrome and feeling behind compared to her peers. She “didn’t really know anyone who had gone to college before,” she said.

“I very intentionally did not want to push myself academically or place much of my pride in school because I was so afraid of doing poorly and failing,” she said. “But then coming into classes, I just ended up trying so, so, so hard to get As, and I've slowly realized that I actually kind of enjoy academia.” 

“So I guess this award is a bit of a representation of that,” she added. “An unexpected, but pleasant surprise.”


Amienne Spencer-Blume ’23 thinks of the honor “as a token of recognition and as putting a name to hard academic work.”

“What it means to me ranges from reminding me of many late work nights to emphasizing the gratitude I have for all those who have supported and believed in me before and during my time at Brown,” Spencer-Blume said. “Because receiving Phi Beta Kappa’s invitation was unexpected for me, what it means to me is also that interesting things can happen at unanticipated turns, simply by focusing on what is right in front of you, step by step.”

Still, Spencer-Blume noted that the honor “is a strong depiction of one slice of my engagement at Brown.”

“The membership criteria speaks on electives, non-native language skills, statistics, and good moral character, but doesn't mention service, for example,” she said. “I recognize Phi Beta Kappa as a unique honor, but there are non-academic achievements that are equally as integral to my and others’ time at Brown.”

Get The Herald delivered to your inbox daily.

Having grown up in Germany, Spencer-Blume said that she was not well-versed in the various honors and societies available in the United States to recognize academic excellence. But that unfamiliarity did not minimize the impact of the honor’s initiation ceremony.

“I was so moved by seeing so many of my peers in Solomon (Hall) on the day of the initiation ceremony. The thing I look forward to most when it comes to being a part of any kind of society is to find and build a caring and diverse community,” she said.

But other than the induction ceremony, Spencer-Blume said she wished that there were more “community building events” for the society. “That made me feel that Phi Beta Kappa is something that lives more on paper …  which is a bit underwhelming given the amazing things that could be done if we came together and showed up for each other,” Spencer-Blume added. “I hope that by connecting with regional chapters, being a part of Phi Beta Kappa will be less about honor and more about engagement.”

Leona Hariharan ’23 noted that she felt the honor’s purpose remains somewhat unclear.

“I knew about Phi Beta Kappa and I knew it was prestigious, but I didn’t quite understand why,” Hariharan said. “I think it’s definitely interesting and I’m sure if you engage with it correctly, you can get a lot out of it.”

According to Kahn, “Phi Beta Kappa membership attracts attention on a résumé … for good reason.”

“But that’s not its only, or central, purpose,” she said. On top of offering access to fellowships, awards and other accolades across all disciplines, “life membership in Phi Beta Kappa means joining a community of scholars who respect and pursue broad learning and the critical thinking that goes with it.”

The following graduating students were elected to Phi Beta Kappa:

Ian Ackerman Parisa Afsharian 

Alexander Avila

Anisha Baktha

Charlotte Balliett

Andres Beck-Ruiz

Robert Bellaire

Ford Bennett

Eliza Berman

Daniel Betensky

Aliyah Blattner

Josephine Bleakley

Alexandra Blitzer

Brehan Brady

Cyprene Caines

Caroline Callender

Thomas Castleman

Vanessa Chang

Julienne Chaqour

Katie Chen

Caroline Cheng

Samuel Clark

Kira Kelly Clarke

Lena Cohen

Claire Costa

Aurelia Cowan

Isabel Cox

Isabel Culver

Katherine Dario

Alexa De La Fuente

David Del Terzo

Grace Desmond

Jack Doughty

Katherine Dowling

Caroline Dressler

Simon Ehlinger

Patrick Faherty

Kelly Fan

Sierra Fang-Horvath

Alexander Fasseas

Gianna Finear

Olivia First

Benjamin Fiske

Beatrice Flynn

Ryan Frant

Ben Frigon

Rachel Fuller

Yasmeen Gaber

Nicolás Gascón

Emma Golden

Caitlin Goldenberg

Armeen Golshan

Olivia Golubowski

Aaron Gruen

Katie Gu

Astoria Hall

Faith Hardy

Leona Hariharan

Elana Hausknecht

Zeke Hertz

Meredith Hilkert

Abigail Hogan

Charles Holmes

Sarah Hoxha

Nicholas Huang

Jihwan Hwang

Brook Jaffe

Justen Joffe

Peyton Johnson

Clive Johnston

Jason Johnston

Chaelin Jung

Mina Kao

Anisha Kasi

Olwyn Kells

Melanie Kim

Brian Kim

Alison Kim

Jacob Kleinman

Sam Kolitch

Helene Koumans

Ethan Kuhl

Zoe Kupetz

Kyoko Leaman

Juliana Lederman

Amanda Levy

Jiawen Li

Matthew Lichtblau

Michal Loren

Paul Luniewski

Madison Mandell

John Maragakis

Charlotte Marcil

Abigail Marks

Cecilia Martin Garcia

Morgan McCordick

Jessa Mellea

Martin Menz

Gabriel Merkel

Alyssa Merritt

Laurel Meshnick

Felix Montgomery

Meghan Murphy

Yohan Mutta

Hyunjoon Nam

Caroline Nash

Dora Nathans

Catherine Nelli

Hai Ning Ng

Stella Ng

Zach Ngin

Stephen O'Donnell

Hannah O'Keeffe

Colin Olson

Ezenna Onuoha

Niyoshi Parekh

Shee-Yeon Park

Olivia Pavin

Srinaath Perangur

Julia Pierce

Noah Pirani

Benjamin Pollard

Vandana Ramesh

Jiawei Ren

Lucas Robles Capovila

Aila K. Rodriguez

Chloe Rosenkranz

Neil Rupani

Michelle Sahai

Shilpa Sajja

Thin Su San

Carina Sandoval

Atessa Savitt

Peder Schaefer

Gail Schor

Maxine Schulte

Richard Shen

Brian Showalter

Anson Shyu

Daniel Silverston

Hugo Skarstedt

Austin Smith

Isaac Sonnenfeldt

Amienne Spencer-Blume

Autumn-Jade Stoner

Diane Story

Joshua Tan

Susan Tang

Maya Taylor

Nina Theisen

Riley Thompson

Lucia Tian

Alejandro Torres

Daniel Tully

Matthew Walsh

Kelly Wang

Yiran Wang

Lily Ward-Diorio

Tucker Wilke

Galen Winsor

Nicole Wong

Isabella Yepes

Sheri Zhang

Jinshi Zheng

Albert Zhu

Benjamin Zimmerman

The following students who have not yet completed their degrees were elected:

Jody Aguirre

Ifenna Amaefuna

Sidharth Anand

Camille Aquino

Miriam Arden

Filbert Aung

Rebecca Bowers

Alana Cho

Angelina Cho

Zane Darden

Meehir Dixit

Johann Dizon

Elisa Dong

Corey Gelb-Bicknell

Adam Gendreau

Isaiah Goldsmith

Kait Gosakti

Brendan Ho

Shazain Khan

Sanjana Konda

Artem Kyrylov

Evelyn Lai

James Langan

Simon Leek

Rosella Liu

Alyssa Loo

Josie Miller

Min Namgung

Neha Narayan

Bryce Okihiro

Arushi Parekh

Aut Permpredanun

Harper Robbins

Ryan Sawyer

Emily Schweiss

Nathaniel Scott

Isabelle Sharon

Annie Stein

Ryan Urato

Jane Vaillant

Emma Venarde

Nate White

Colin Wire

Jada Wooten

Celina Ye

Emily Ye

Jasper Yeh

Tate Kihara PhD’23 was elected to the chapter’s graduate membership. 

Sofia Barnett

Sofia Barnett is a University News editor overseeing the faculty and higher education beat. She is a junior from Texas studying history and English nonfiction and enjoys freelancing in her free time.

Powered by SNworks Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2024 The Brown Daily Herald, Inc.