Phi Beta Kappa society accepts 22 strong seniors

by Kimberly Sheu | 1/5/06 6:00am

The 22 highest-ranked members of the Class of 2006 were inducted into the academic honor society Phi Beta Kappa on Nov. 30 in a ceremony hosted by College President James Wright in his home.

The early induction traditionally honors the 20 seniors with the highest cumulative grade point averages in their class. As in previous years, the society exceeded this number to accept four students whose grade point averages tied.

This year's early inductees are: Mukund Bhaskar, Katherine Ann Brill, Jesse Michael Brush, Bart Clayton Butler, Robert Davis Butts, Ryan Edwards Chesley, Alison Faye Crocker, Meredith Lana Curtis, Dean Lawrence Drizin, Mary Elizabeth Gribbon, Rachel Alexandra Halsema, Erik Hinterbichler, Jonah Allan Kolb, Emma Alexandra Lubin, Evgeniya Emilova Petrova, Jillian Francene Rork, Melanie Schorr, Wei Yu Tan, Austin Ryan Vedder, Peter Joseph Verovsek, Luke Malina Wachter and Seth David Zimmerman.

Nicholas Primack '07 was awarded the hundred-dollar Phi Beta Kappa Prize for having maintained the highest grade point average in the Class of 2007.

Lewis W. Wolfson '55, now Professor of Communication at American University, was also inducted as an alumni member of the chapter.

"Obviously it's an honor," inductee Robert Butts '06 said, "But it isn't so much the name as the honor of sharing the company of so many extraordinary students. The people who are assembled are amazing. They have widely different interests and widely different activities; it's an interesting collection of people."

Butts, who is a government major with a minor in psychology said he did not set out to be part of the society, but understood it was possibility based on his grade point average.

He added that his friends were very supportive of the achievement and he was able to share it with other members of his coed fraternity, Alpha Theta.

Wayne Tan '06, an international student from Singapore, was doing a senior fellowship in China when he received news of the honor. He returned to the U.S. in late November and was unable to attend the ceremony.

Tan, majoring in linguistics modified with Russian, says that he has been motivated by his interest in his field. "Freshman year I was inspired by the research my profs have been doing," he said. "They have given me a lot of encouragement and pointed me in the right direction."

Tan is currently doing research on Mongolian languages, and as part of this research has had to travel to China to collect data and meet other researchers in the field.

"I started with Russian freshman year and I was motivated by my Russian professors, especially Professor [Mikhail] Gronas. I met Professor [Lindsay] Whaley in the linguistics department, and his research was related to what I was interested in, so he has been one of my main motivations," Tan said.

Tan, although he gives priority to academics, finds time to balance his work with other interests.

"Academics come first, but because of my interest in other cultures it is easy to spend time at fairs and festivals devoted to international culture," he said. Tan is also a member of the International Student Association.

"If you have a passion for whatever you're doing, doing well comes naturally," he said. He advises students to pursue their interests and to enjoy what they are doing.

Phi Beta Kappa was founded at the College of William and Mary in 1776. It now elects over 15,000 new members, usually undergraduate seniors, every year from its chapters at 270 institutions across the United States.

The Dartmouth chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, founded in 1787, is the fourth-oldest in the nation and the oldest undergraduate organization at Dartmouth College. It revised its constitution in 1899 to base membership in Phi Beta Kappa strictly on academic achievement alone.

According to Kate Soule, secretary and treasurer of the Dartmouth chapter, the purpose of the society is "to support the liberal arts in general, and to support liberal education at Dartmouth."

Phi Beta Kappa will also induct in the spring another group of students: members of the Class of 2006 with a grade point average of 3.75 or higher.