Phi Beta Kappa initiates new members

President Julio Frenk presents senior Kendall Kilberger with the Phi Beta Kappa Award for Excellence in Liberal Learning at the Phi Beta Kappa initiation ceremony on Friday, April 12. Photo: Jenny Abreu for the University of Miami

By Ashley A. Williams

President Julio Frenk presents senior Kendall Kilberger with the Phi Beta Kappa Award for Excellence in Liberal Learning at the Phi Beta Kappa initiation ceremony on Friday, April 12. Photo: Jenny Abreu for the University of Miami

Phi Beta Kappa initiates new members

By Ashley A. Williams
The nation’s oldest and most-widely known academic honor society inducted 45 students from the College of Arts and Sciences.

Students at the University of Miami were initiated into an elite society that boasts a membership roster that includes 17 U.S. Presidents, 41 Supreme Court justices, and more than 140 Nobel Prize winners.

Phi Beta Kappa, America’s most prestigious honor society, has celebrated excellence in the liberal arts and sciences since 1776.

UM President Julio Frenk and Leonidas Bachas, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, welcomed the 45 new members, their families, and friends during a luncheon initiation ceremony at The Braman Miller Center on April 12.

“Remember that wherever your path takes you, you will always be a part of the University of Miami,” Frenk said. “It is here that the ability to work with people who think differently from ourselves and where we learn to address social challenges by forging new discoveries and new insights that help us to better understand and improve the world we all live in.”

Phi Beta Kappa is a supporter of education and fosters freedom of thought. The society continuously advocates for the importance of liberal arts and sciences by recognizing its members’ curiosity and creativity. Students who are invited into Phi Beta Kappa have been surveyed by current members of the Delta of Florida chapter for eligibility. Following their initiation, the newcomers will be connected to more than 500,000 members worldwide. 

Each inductee was awarded a certificate of initiation, presented with a blue and pink stole to wear on graduation day, and also received a signature gold key pin that was gifted by Frenk, who is an honorary member. Inductees shook his hand before signing a book signifying their eternal membership.

Kendall Kilberger, a senior majoring in mathematics and Spanish, received the Phi Beta Kappa Award for Excellence in Liberal Learning. Throughout her collegiate career, she’s earned an impressive 13 A+ grades and has been on both the president’s and provost’s honor rolls.

“This honor means more to me than words can express,” said Kilberger, who is the president of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars. “The road has not been easy; however I realized that all my hard work was truly worth it. I truly feel so humbled and honored today.”

Talula Thibault, a junior double majoring in economics and ecosystem science and policy, said the late nights she’s stayed up studying have all paid off by receiving this invitation of membership. With one year left at the University, she plans to continue working toward making the world a greener place.

“It’s very reassuring, things can get a bit draining but this has given me that extra push,” said Thibault. “I don’t know where I would be without my professors and advisors. They’ve guided me in ways that I didn’t even know I needed to be guided. I’ve been through some highs and some lows, and they’ve all taken the extra steps to get to know me.”

John Paul Russo, professor of English and chair of the Department of Classics, delivered the keynote address.