St. Kate’s holds first Phi Kappa Phi initiation ceremony

Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society seal

The seal of Phi Kappa Phi represents its motto, "Let the love of learning rule humanity." Photo by Michelle Mullowney ’17.

Last Thursday, the first-ever initiation ceremony of the St. Kate’s Phi Kappa Phi chapter — established in November 2018 — celebrated membership of 32 current students and 51 alumni. Faculty, family, and friends convened in the Rauenhorst Ballroom as the newest Phi Kappa Phi members received their pins from President Roloff and chapter president Rafael Cervantes.

Phi Kappa Phi is one of the first honor societies established in the United States, and is the oldest U.S. honor society to welcome members from all disciplines. Membership is invite-only and is granted to students within the top 10% of their class. In recognition of the St. Kate’s chapter’s first initiation ceremony, the Phi Kappa Phi national office granted the option to extend membership to alumni who have graduated within the past five years. Anita Thomas, executive vice president and provost, and Laura Fero, dean of nursing, both received Phi Kappa Phi membership as well in recognition of their leadership roles.

“I’m grateful to be here today to participate in recognizing the academic excellence of people throughout our community,” said Cervantes, who is also the communication department head and director of the Antonian Scholars Honors Program. “That is, at its heart, the purpose of Phi Kappa Phi — to recognize the academic achievement and excellence happening throughout our University [and] to bring those people together to form a community.”

Natalie Grose ’20 considers her ΦΚΦ pin both an honor and a reminder of why she’s been so academically dedicated in the first place. “I take my education seriously, and this encourages me to keep working hard,” she said. “Now that Phi Kappa Phi is tied to me, there are expectations of academic excellence, and I want to uphold those, not just for myself but for St. Kate’s and the Phi Kappa Phi community.”

For both current students and alumni, the community implicit in Phi Kappa Phi membership is an added bonus. Liz Allen ’19 was inspired to return for the ceremony by the community she’s found both within the St. Kate’s communications department and in this new honors society. “As a recent grad, community is so important,” she said, adding that she and other communications alumni joining Phi Kappa Phi “all came to the ceremony together to support each other.”

“You earned this,” President Roloff told the assembled initiates. “We are proud of you, and you carry forward academic excellence not for its own purpose, but for what it brings into the world so that we can do good work. How do we bring what’s here into the world in a way that makes the world that much better? It’s a better world by the fact that you’re all here.”


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