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Phi Beta Kappa Names "Junior 24"

By Michelle B. Nguyen, Crimson Staff Writer

The Harvard chapter of the Phi Beta Kappa society will induct its newest members this month when 24 members of the Class of 2012 join the academic honor society, one of the nation’s oldest.

Elections, conducted by a selection committee under the leadership of History professor Ann M. Blair ’84, wrapped up last week, and the selected students, known as the “Junior 24,” will be inducted at a formal ceremony in Leverett House on April 25.

Representing a wide range of Houses and concentrations, the students were selected based on their grade point averages and recommendations from the various departments. They received an email notification Thursday morning.

“It’s a really nice thing to wake up to,” said Annabel C. Beichman ’12, an Organismic and Evolutionary Biology concentrator in Mather House.

Members of the Class of 2012 who were not selected still have two opportunities to be elected to the society, which will select the Senior 48 in November and another group of around 96 the following May.

“It’s a tremendous honor,” said Alex W. Palmer ’12, a Social Studies concentrator in Quincy House. “And then you realize that there are many people who deserve this, so it’s really humbling as well.”

Fellow Social Studies concentrator Abigail R. Modaff ’12, who is studying abroad in England, received the news while on vacation with her parents in Spain.

“I’m from a middle-class family whose parents met as actors and I went to an inner-city public school,” she said. “My parents were just as surprised as I was that I could go to a place like Harvard and do things like get into PBK.”

New inductees interviewed for this article unanimously praised the various departments for the guidance they’ve received.

“The tutors and administrators are great and very supportive,” Palmer said.

Michael J. Lim ’12, an economics concentrator in Mather House, concurred.

“I’ve received a lot of mentorship and guidance,” he said. “There’s no denying the fact that the Economics department bears the unfortunate reputation of having huge lecture classes, but I’ve found that if students make a genuine effort to get to know their professors and instructors, even in impersonal settings, Harvard professors and TFs respond positively to such initiative.”

Aside from personal effort and departmental support, inductees cited a wide range of factors that contributed to their academic successes.

“I was particularly motivated by watching Simon Gawlik row on the ergometer,” said Michael K. Velchik ’12, a joint concentrator in Philosophy and Classics, referring to a rower who graduated in 2009. “If he could pull that hard on the water, there was no reason I couldn’t do so in the classroom.”

The 24 students inducted into the society yesterday are Aditya Balasubramanian, Annabel C. Beichman, Eva K. Belmont, Peter M. Bozzo, Jane J. Choi, Francis Deng, Danielle N. Drees, Nathaniel E. Hipsman, George X. Huang, Michael J. Lim, Philip Mocz, Abigail R. Modaff, Robert H. Newell, Alex W. Palmer, Antonia M. R. Peacocke, Riva J. Riley, Tyler B. Runge, Madeleine M. Schwartz, Marieke A. Thomas, Matthew G. Tung, Spencer S. Vegosen, Michael K. Velchik, Jennifer A. Xia, and Victor W. K. Yang.

—Staff writer Michelle B. Nguyen can be reached at

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