Some were "very excited," others "vaguely surprised." But all 12 women elected to Phi Beta Kappa this week received the honor of being the first members chosen for the prestigious academic society from Harvard's Class of 1991.
"I was very excited yet very surprised that I made it," said Jessica Todd Smith '91, who heard yesterday that she had been chosen as a member of the female Junior 12. "My grandmother and my aunt were both Phi Beta Kappas, and they were ecstatic to hear that I was one too."
Other honorees took it in stride. Beth M. Quitslund '91 said that she was "pleased, honored and vaguely surprised" to receive the award.
"It wasn't something I had been consciously counting on," said Quitslund, adding that "it was nice to be honored by the school."
A committee of current undergraduate Phi Beta Kappa members and faculty representatives nominated twice the number of eligible students who were selected, said Jackie Weiss, Harvard's Phi Beta Kappa representative.
Although the committee based nominations solely on grade point averages collected from the Registrar's Office, it also considered faculty recommendations and course difficulty in making its final decisions, Weiss said.
Once these decisions were made, those chosen were asked to pay $40 for registration, certificate production and council fund fees in order to become members, according to Weiss.
"I was very happy to be chosen, but my only gripe with the process is that they say it is a merit-based award yet they charge you for membership," said Sheila Kannappan '91, another new member.
Phi Beta Kappa holds three elections per class, Weiss said. Twelve women and twelve men are chosen in the spring of junior year, 24 of each gender are chosen in the fall of senior year, and the remainder are selected just prior to graduation. Ten percent of each graduating class become members, Weiss said.
Phi Beta Kappa will announce its male Junior 12 next week, she added.
The following is a complete list of those elected this week, with their house affiliation and concentration:
Natalya Freeland, Adams, Literature; Sheila Kannappan, Cabot, Physics; Annette Kim, Leverett, Chemistry; Rebecca Maclean, Dunster, Psychology; Elspeth McIntosh, Lowell, Classics; Janet McIntosh, Cabot, Anthropology;
Jessica Mosher, Cabot, Anthropology; Beth Quitsland, Lowell, History and Literature; Jessica Todd Smith, Winthrop, Fine Arts; Carrie Weber, North, Literature; Lisa Wickham, Quincy, Physics; Rebecca Zorach, Adams, History and Literature.