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Spring 2017 Phi Beta Kappa initiates

Phi Beta Kappa, America's most prestigious honor society, was founded by five William & Mary students on Dec. 5, 1776. The Alpha Chapter of Virginia is still active on campus today, and, this Friday, 48 of W&M's top students will be initiated in a ceremony to be held in the Wren Chapel.

In addition, History Professor James Whittenburg will be initiated as a new faculty member of the society, and the Williamsburg Regional Library will receive the chapter's 2017 Award for Lifelong Learning.

According to the honor society's national website, the first president of Phi Beta Kappa, John Heath, wanted to develop a student society that would be more "serious minded" than its predecessors at the College. The Greek initials for the society reflect its motto, "Love of learning is the guide of life." It was founded as a secret society so that its members could discuss any topic freely, and freedom of inquiry has been a hallmark of the society ever since.

Today, there are 286 chapters at American colleges and universities with nearly 50 active alumni associations located throughout the country. Nationally, only 10 percent of Arts & Sciences graduates at universities with chapters are invited to join each year. At W&M, that number is just 7 percent, according to George Greenia, professor emeritus of Hispanic studies and corresponding secretary of the chapter. Greenia, who served on the society's national committee for six years, added that the process at W&M is more complex and careful than any other chapter and serves as a benchmark for the rest of the country in rigor.

Students selected for membership have demonstrated intellectual integrity, tolerance for other views and a broad range of academic interests. Past members of the society have included 17 U.S. presidents, 40 U.S. Supreme Court justices and more than 130 Nobel Laureates among countless other leaders in a variety of fields.

This spring's Alpha Chapter initiates are:

  • Jacob Renwick Alter
  • Lyuba  Bolkhovitinov
  • Priya Maria Jose Brito
  • Michelle Joanna Brown
  • Justin Paul Canakis
  • Jacqueline Tabor Chapman
  • Lindsay Elizabeth Chatkewitz
  • Fiona Kathryn Craib
  • Catherine Michele Crowley
  • Arya Dahal
  • Bernadette Marie Deschaine
  • Tessa Renee Diehl
  • Meghan Lee Downey
  • Juliet Gwendolyn Downie
  • Andrew Stephen Elgin
  • Nia Ruth Gibson
  • Stephen Andrew Gurley
  • Olivia Louise Hajek
  • Vitaliy  Humenyuk
  • Zarine Kharazian
  • Sarah Garnett Kinniburgh
  • Anna Marie Louisa Klompen
  • Jessica Elizabeth Lee
  • Stephanie Elizabeth Levin
  • Xiaoxue Lin
  • Maia Pauline Mandel
  • Kathryn Bernadette McElheny
  • Cameron I Menchel
  • Jessica Lynn Raff
  • Mackenzie L Reilly
  • Anastasia Zoe Rose Rivera
  • Alexandra Angelica Rosenberg
  • Paul Leonard Rowley
  • Eryn Leigh Sawyer
  • Nairuti Shastry
  • Benjamin Shaw
  • Rachel Elaine Smith
  • Megan Jane Sonner
  • Kyhl Gregory Stephen
  • Marianna Beverly Stepniak
  • William Alexander Theuer
  • Elizabeth M Towell
  • Quentin Joseph Ullrich
  • Meredith Ann Wolf
  • Caitlin Elizabeth Womack
  • Anna Ming Wong
  • Samuel Yu
  • Yingzhu Zhang