Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s oldest and most prestigious academic honor society, inducted 20 new members from St. Catherine University on Thursday evening.
From scientific research to children’s theater, economic analysis to humanitarian work — the career plans of the students inducted into the honor society are as varied as their majors and academic achievements.
Surrounded by faculty, family and friends, the 2016 inductees each took a turn signing the 79-year-old membership roster of the Phi Beta Kappa, Gamma Chapter — the first chapter at a Catholic institution in the United States.
Senior members, with major noted, include:
Jena Benoit — psychology
Ella Burnham — math / education
Carolyn Catherine Gruenes — education / Spanish
Sophia Hani — chemistry (biochemistry)
Brianne Elizabeth Hintsala — biology (Antonian Scholar)
Grace Kaczmarek — music studies
Caitlyn Keo — economics
Melisa Lu — chemistry (biochemistry)
McKenzie Elizabeth McMillan — sociology
Adelaide Mueller — music studies / occupational science
Makabongwe Crystaljoy Ngulube — international relations / women’s studies
Mikinzee Salo — psychology
Katherine Sandberg — criminal justice / psychology
Emma Scagnelli — classical archeology
Ann Schaal — English
Sarah Showalter — biology
Pachia Vang — English
Naomi Wolff — Spanish / sociology
Meaghan Bruening — chemistry (Antonian Scholar)
Rose Winter — math / history (Antonian Scholar)
The honorary speaker for the evening was Anne Weyandt ’83, dean of Adult and Applied Education and Phi Beta Kappa member, who spoke on “Words Matter: The Politics of Civility.”
She shared examples of the power of words, and how they influence the nature, content and civility of public discourse, starting with vide et credere: to see, and to believe.
“As lovers of the liberal arts, we profoundly believe in action based upon observation, action that creates more loving communities, action that builds a more just society. We see, we believe, and we act,” she said.
She later quoted the famous line from Shakespeare’s Pericles – In hac spe vivo: In this hope, I live.
“Shakespeare suggests that civility is a quality practiced by those who believe in discerning the lessons learned throughout a life’s journey, which to me is a powerful illustration of the transformative power of the liberal arts,” said Weyandt, reminding students that “You are our world’s hope for a more just, civil, and compassionate future.”
In closing remarks, Alan Silva, dean of the School of Humanities, Arts and Sciences, challenged the students to be ambassadors of the liberal arts.
“We need your voice. Challenge those who question the value and the practicality of the liberal arts. Tell them what you studied, what you majored in, what you are doing in the world,” said Silva. “Because if you don’t do this, who will? Without you, how will we continue to educate students like you?”
Three of the inductees are also in the Antonian Scholars Honors Program, a rigorous baccalaureate level program for students of exceptional academic performance who show promise as creative thinkers and leaders. Antonian Scholars must complete four interdisciplinary honors seminars and an independently researched senior honors project.
Jena Benoit '16 signs the Phi Beta Kappa book, which contains the signature of every St. Catherine member since the Gamma of Minnesota Chapter was installed in 1938. Photo: By Rebecca Studios / Rebecca Zenefski '10
Founded in 1776, Phi Beta Kappa is the nation's oldest and most prestigious undergraduate honors organization recognizing achievement in the liberal arts. In 1937, St. Catherine University was the first Catholic college or university to be awarded a Phi Beta Kappa chapter. Currently, only 286 chapters exist at higher education institutions throughout the United States.
Phi Beta Kappa embraces the principles of freedom of inquiry and liberty of thought and expression. Its chapters induct the most outstanding arts and sciences students at America’s leading colleges and universities. About 10 percent of higher education institutions have Phi Beta Kappa chapters, and only about 10 percent of arts and sciences graduates from these institutions are selected for membership.