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Twenty-four College juniors woke up to an email Tuesday morning informing them of their selection as inductees into the Alpha Iota chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the country’s oldest honor society.
The society selects new members three times each year—24 juniors in the spring, 48 seniors in November, and around 96 seniors prior to graduation. The selection process is particularly rigorous for the first 24 inductees; after being notified they are up for consideration, they can accept the nomination by submitting their academic record and two letters of recommendation.
The Phi Beta Kappa website states inductees are chosen on the basis of “a record of outstanding scholarly achievement, showing both depth of study and breadth of intellectual interest.”
Several inductees said Tuesday morning began like any other: They woke up and checked their email, only to see a subject line congratulating them for their selection.
“Yesterday morning, like every other morning, I woke up around 9:30 a.m. and lay in bed while checking my phone's notifications,” Junior 24 member Lita D. Peña ’19 wrote in an email. “To be honest, I was speechless. It reminded me of how I felt when I received my Harvard acceptance email senior year of high school!”
Many inductees added that they immediately texted or called family members and close friends. History and Literature concentrator Julia H. Fine ’19 said she reached out to her mom immediately after reading the email.
“She said her mother—my grandmother—who passed away would be very proud,” Fine said.
History and Philosophy joint concentrator Richard Yarrow ’19 and Government concentrator Max Kuhelj Bugaric ’19 were suitemates their freshman and sophomore years. Yarrow said hearing about Kuhelj Bugaric’s selection was the best part of the news.
“What I was most excited by was finding out that my longtime suitemate, Max, also got PBK—after very carefully approaching the topic with each other,” he said.
Many of the inductees have pursued a wide variety of academic work at the College, including joint concentrations, secondary fields, and language citations, all optional requirements for Harvard undergraduates. Eunice Lee ’19, who is currently pursuing a joint concentration in Physics and Music, said she solicited recommendations from both departments.
“After reading the email, I felt an immense gratitude towards my recommenders,” Lee said. “I felt that I was fortunate to have two people in mind coming from two different subjects I’m interested in—so, I had in mind a professor I work with closely on composition and a professor with whom I work closely on physics.”
A complete list of the members of the Class of 2019 elected to the “Junior 24” is below:
Marty P. Berger, Anthropology (Lowell)
Katherine E. Binney, Computer Science (Leverett)
Kevin Chen, Applied Mathematics (Cabot)
Brendan Z. Dean, Integrative Biology (Cabot)
Brittany N. Ellis, Anthropology (Kirkland)*
Julia H. Fine, History and Literature (Winthrop)
William Fried, Mechanical Engineering (Dunster)
Amelia Y. Goldberg, Social Studies (Adams)
Rachel Gologorsky, Computer Science, Mathematics
Peter Z. Hartnett, Applied Mathematics
Becky E. Jarvis, Linguistics, Mathematics (Lowell)
Karl H. Kaellenius, Social Studies (Eliot)
Laura A. Kanji, Psychology (Dunster)
Max Kuhelj Bugaric, Government (Mather)
Eunice Lee, Physics, Music (Eliot)
Mateo A. Lincoln, Music, Comparative Literature (Currier)
Lita D. Peña, Psychology (Quincy)
Sofia Shchukina, Economics (Kirkland)
Hanson Tam, Molecular and Cellular Biology (Lowell)
Nathan T. Williams, Neurobiology (Dunster)
Lily Xu, Chemical and Physical Biology (Mather)
Leah S. Yared, History and Literature, African and African American Studies (Cabot) *
Richard Yarrow, History, Philosophy (Lowell)
Brian P. Yu, Computer Science, Linguistics (Winthrop) *
*denote Crimson editors
—Staff writer Shera S. Avi-Yonah can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @saviyonah.
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