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Phi Beta Kappa Names New Members to UW Chapter

April 3, 2020

The nation’s oldest and most prestigious academic honor society, Phi Beta Kappa (PBK), has selected 37 new members for the University of Wyoming chapter. Students were selected based upon their demonstrated excellence in the liberal arts and sciences.

“To be elected, a student needs to show a balanced liberal arts education that accords with the national stipulations, and which we verify by examining every candidate’s transcript in detail,” says Eric Nye, professor emeritus in the Department of English and chapter secretary. “It is the one distinction prospective employers and graduate schools are swift to notice.”

Nye says members cannot apply or be nominated to PBK, but are selected by faculty members in the chapter. Membership is limited to those in the top 10 percent of the graduating class, but Nye says PBK members at UW are typically in the top 3-4 percent.

In all, fewer than 1 percent of U.S. college graduates are chosen. UW’s chapter, Alpha of Wyoming, has more than 100 faculty and staff members.

Most new members are seniors, but a handful of outstanding students are elected as juniors, Nye says. Each junior class member will receive a $1,000 Louise A. Lee Johnson Memorial Scholarship. This year’s recipients are Gregory Bell, from Big Piney; Christian Moncrief, of Cheyenne; and Deborah Smith, from Rock Springs.

Due to concerns about large gatherings related to the novel coronavirus COVID-19, there will not be an induction ceremony for this year’s PBK members.

PBK selects new members annually from each of its 290 chapters nationwide. The UW chapter sponsors lectures, scholarships and other academic activities. The chapter will celebrate the 80th anniversary of earning its charter next November. PBK has been one of the most respected societies in the world for more than 200 years.

The society was founded in 1776 at the College of William and Mary in Virginia. Within a decade, chapters were initiated at Yale, Harvard and Dartmouth. The UW chapter received its charter in 1940. PBK promotes the ideal of a community of scholarship and, in most years, the UW chapter sponsors a distinguished visiting lecturer for the entire university. 

New PBK members at UW, listed by hometowns and majors, are:

Albuquerque, N.M. -- Maria Kissner, history.

Big Piney -- Gregory Bell, English.

Casper -- Gavin Heady, anthropology and English; and Alissa Kopp, psychology.

Cheyenne -- Kentzie Bernabeu, English and philosophy; Maia Marces, criminal justice and international studies; Christian Moncrief, psychology; and Toby Thompson, English.

Cody -- Andre Parsons, English; and Wayne Sides, English and theater.

Deaver -- Malerie Estes, political science.

Denver, Colo. -- Sara Martinez-Garcia, physiology.

Douglas -- Katelyn Wittenborn, English.

Gilbert, Ariz. -- Leena Hornlein, political science.

Gillette -- Laura Dale, anthropology; and Keifer Schlekeway, English.

Jelm -- Venice Sheehan, international studies.

Lander -- Alexandra Jacobson, psychology; and Alyssa Logue, kinesiology and health promotion, and Spanish.

Laramie -- Alexandria Ekler, Spanish; Bailey Schmitt, English; and Neylan Wheat, English.

Loveland, Colo. -- Alia Jackson, international studies.

Lovell -- Morgan May, physiology.

Ogallala, Neb. -- Stephanie Skinner, political science.

Parker, Colo. -- Rachel Shrode, biology and Spanish.

Powell -- Anne Whitaker, zoology.

Rock Springs -- Deborah Smith, Spanish.

Saugerties, N.Y. -- Lisa Kemp, zoology.

Sheridan -- Alexandra Bammel, psychology.

Thayne -- Colten Clark, microbiology.

Urbandale, Iowa -- Courtenay Mays, geology.

Veteran -- Katrina Haines, musical performance and history.

Wheatland -- Yesenia Perez, political science; and Emily Teter, psychology.

Worland -- Nathan Barrus, zoology.

Yarra Glen, Australia -- Scott Mullin, anthropology.

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