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Phi Beta Kappa Elects ‘Junior 24’ From Harvard Class of 2025

Twenty-four Harvard juniors were tapped for Harvard College's chapter of Phi Beta Kappa on Friday.
Twenty-four Harvard juniors were tapped for Harvard College's chapter of Phi Beta Kappa on Friday. By Michael Gritzbach
By Annabel M. Yu, Crimson Staff Writer

Phevos Paschalidis ’25, a Computer Science concentrator in Winthrop House, was on the phone with his older brother when he received an email announcing his election to Harvard College’s chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s oldest academic honor society.

Paschalidis wrote in an email that he felt “surprise and delight” when he learned about receiving the honor while chatting with his brother.

“Being able to share it with him right away was definitely special,” he added.

Paschalidis and 23 other Harvard juniors learned they would be the first in their class to join the Alpha Iota chapter of Phi Beta Kappa on Friday.

The chapter has three cohorts of inductions each year: “Junior 24” in the spring semester, “Senior 48” in the fall semester, and “Final Seniors” who are elected right before Commencement. No more than 10 percent of any graduating class can be tapped for PBK.

This year’s inductees represented 23 different concentrations and hailed from all the undergraduate Houses besides Cabot House, the second year in a row Cabot was the only House with no representation among the “Junior 24.”

Among concentrations, Mathematics took the lead in this cohort with four inductees, with Physics and Statistics following right behind with three students each.

Katalina Toth ’25, a student in Mather House pursuing a joint concentration in Government and Romance Languages & Literatures, also said she was surprised to be elected to PBK as a member of the “Junior 24,” adding that she learned the news when a reporter from The Crimson reached out by email to request an interview.

“My reaction to your email was, ‘Oh that’s so funny,’” Toth said. “‘I don’t know how The Crimson got this wrong.’”

“And then I saw the email from Phi Beta Kappa and was like, ‘Oh, this is so awesome,’” Toth added. “I was so excited and I called my mom immediately.”

Samuel P.N. Libenson ’25, a student in Eliot House, said he was “a lot calmer” than he expected to be when he read the email announcing his election.

“It’s a very plainly written email that tells me something that’s a bit of a big deal,” he added. “I matched the energy of the email.”

Shu Yang Wei ’25, a student in Currier House who hails from Singapore, said he was “incredibly honored” to be elected as an international student.

“As an international student, Harvard really stands out as a global beacon of innovation and excellence,” said Wei, who studies Economics. “I’ve had the help of a lot of people, and I think this is a huge testament to all of that and also to the work that I’ve put into my academic journey.”

Some of the inductees discussed how they merged different fields — often from the sciences and the humanities — to enhance their education at the College.

Libenson, who is pursuing a joint concentration in Social Studies and Philosophy, said he spent the beginning of his academic career at Harvard discovering what he was intellectually interested in by exploring a wide range of fields.

“I shopped around a lot and tried out a lot of different things my first few semesters at Harvard,” he said. “The classes I found myself most pulled towards were classes that dealt with the history of ideas.”

Others said that this invitation came with a sense of validation in the oftentimes, high-achieving Harvard community.

Sam E. Meacham ’25, a student in Pforzheimer House studying Social Studies, said it felt “wonderful to be recognized for it.”

“It's actually quite humbling,” he said. “Coming into Harvard — or at certain times at Harvard — I wasn't entirely sure where I stacked up, and I feel like a lot of us have that kind of feeling a lot of the time.”

Lena Ashooh ’25, a student in Kirkland House pursuing a special concentration in Animal Studies, said her election made her feel grateful to be a student.

“Very few people have the time, space, and stability to spend all their time studying,” Ashooh said. “It is such a gift. I think it makes us doubly responsible to the people who don’t have this freedom.”

“I’m so excited about all that I can learn from the other inductees about how they’re making this world better,” she added.

—Staff writer Annabel M. Yu can be reached at annabel.yu@thecrimson.com. Follow her on X @annabelmyu.

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Harvard Class of 2025 PBK ‘Junior 24’