The College of Arts and Sciences is pleased to congratulate the 105 American University students that were inducted into the prestigious Phi Beta Kappa honor society on May 11. Both AU and the Phi Beta Kappa society advocate for excellence in the liberal arts and sciences and hold these fields in high regard. Each inductee was invited to the honor society because of outstanding commitment and high academic achievement in the liberal arts and sciences.
The invitation only honor society is extremely selective. Approximately 10 percent of the universities and colleges in the US have Phi Beta Kappa chapters and only about 10 percent of students at these institutions are selected for Phi Beta Kappa membership. All members are members for life.
The Phi Beta Kappa society is the oldest preeminent collegiate honor society for the liberal arts in the US. Established in 1776 at the College of William and Mary, Phi Beta Kappa now comprises 280 chapters across the nation. The AU Chapter, Zeta of Washington, DC, was founded in 1994. The Zeta Chapter has inducted 1,317 students since its founding, with 66 students inducted the first year and an average of 75 students inducted each year after.
AU is well suited to cultivate the values of Phi Beta Kappa. With the intimacy of a smaller college and strong intellectual enterprises, students at AU are able to pursue rewarding studies in the liberal arts.
A large number of Phi Beta Kappans are following in their family’s footsteps. Tom Davidson’s (BA political science ’12) mother, Susan Stine’s (BA international studies ’12) father, William Hea’s (MA international affairs ’12) great-grandfather, Kelley Siart’s (BA theatre ’12) sister, Stefanie Hong’s (BA art history ’12) mother, and Molly Miranker’s (BA human biology ’12) sister are members. Sisters Kaitlin (BS biology ’12) and Meghan Esson (BS economics ’14) are being inducted together. Their mother and aunt are also members. Elin Harm (BA international studies ’12) and her twin sister, who is graduating from the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, are both new members.
While at AU, inductees pursued a wide range of interests and research. Stefanie Hong took advantage of going to college in DC by volunteering in as many culturally and economically diverse environments as possible. She surpassed her personal goal of conducting at least 100 hours of community service each semester, all while being on the Dean’s list each semester. Eric Fleddermann (BA international studies ’13) will be the president of the AU Mock Trial team next year, working to get the team to the national championship tournament.
After graduation, Phi Beta Kappans are ending up in a variety of positions and graduate school programs. A few are highlighted here. Kaitlin Esson is starting an ecology PhD program at Georgia Tech, Neil Davis (BA international studies ’12) is going to teach secondary Spanish in San Francisco as a Teach For America corps member, Carol Foster (BA Communications, Legal Institutions, Economics, and Government ’12) will stay in DC to complete a master’s in public administration at AU and work as a staff assistant for Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI), John Stefos (BA international studies ’12) will work for Raytheon Company as a member of their corporate finance Leadership Development Program in Massachusetts, Tom Davidson will join Deloitte Consulting's Federal Practice as a strategy and operations analyst, Susan Stine will be serving in the Peace Corps, as an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher in Latin America, Kelly Siart will be participating in the DC Teaching Fellows summer training program and then will begin teaching Elementary Special Education for DC Public Schools in the fall, Liz Richards (BA political science ’12) will be working at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, and Molly Miranker will be interning at the Natural History Museum and pursuing opportunities to publish research.
Phi Beta Kappans dream big and reach their goals. Aletheia Orphanidys (BA international studies ’12) “hopes to join Secretary Rice and Clinton (also Phi Beta Kappa members) and become a future US Secretary of State.” The College of Arts and Sciences hopes that Orphanidys and all other inductees obtain their current and future goals.
Marguerite Haley Lehleitner