Fifteen graduating seniors were elected into the Gamma chapter of Phi Beta Kappa during a ceremony Dec. 8. PBK is the nation’s oldest academic honor society.
Students elected to the society must have completed Stage I and II of the General Education Expectations by the end of the junior year and have a grade point average of 93 or above. Transfer students are eligible for nomination and election only in the spring.
“This particular group of students has a GPA average of 94,” said Gary Yohe, president of the Wesleyan Gamma Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa and the Huffington Foundation Professor of Economics and Environmental Studies.
Rob Rosenthal, provost and vice president for academic affairs, credited the new PBK cohort for their hard work.
“All students at Wesleyan are scholarly academics, but not everyone is a hard worker. That’s a decision, a contribution, that you had to make to be sitting here today,” Rosenthal said at the initiation ceremony. “You’ve put in a ton of work, and that’s really honorable.”
The nomination committee is responsible for reviewing the qualifications of the nominees and presents their recommendations to the Wesleyan Chapter for approval.
The committee includes Yohe; Vice President Sally Bachner, assistant professor of English; Secretary and Marshal Louise Brown, dean for academic advancement; Historian Lorna Scott, assistant to the vice president for student affairs; and Anna Shusterman, assistant professor of psychology.
Phi Beta Kappa was founded in 1776, during the American Revolution. The organization’s Greek initials signify the motto, “Love of learning is the guide of life.” The students join the ninth oldest Phi Beta Kappa chapter in the United States—founded in 1845. PBK has 248 chapters nationwide and 525,000 members.
The students inducted at the ceremony are:
Arion Blas is a Freeman Asian Scholar from the Philippines who is majoring in economics. He is presently writing a thesis on credit availability in Indonesia and its effects on income smoothing. Arion works in the Quantitative Analysis Center as a tutor and as a student manager and photography intern in the university’s photography office. He is also involved with the Wesleyan Christian Fellowship, and enjoys baking and cooking with his friends. After Wesleyan, Arion will move to Boston to work in an economic consulting firm. After working for a few years, he hopes to attend graduate school.
Wei Dai is currently studying at CalTech in the 3-2 Program, which is a combined study of engineering with a liberal arts education. Wei came to Wesleyan as a Freeman Scholar to pursue physics and mathematics. While working in the physics department lab headed by Associate Professor of Physics Francis Starr, he used computer simulation to study the properties of nanoparticles. In the future he wishes to work on a DNA-based computer which could potentially reduce energy consumption. Wei also plays the violin in chamber music. He likes to read the Bible, maintaining that “without God, science would be much less interesting.”
Elizabeth James Dalton is an art major doing her thesis in painting. In her paintings she explores the juxtaposition of illusion and abstraction. Elizabeth is passionate about the natural world, and last summer she spent four weeks in Honduras assisting with conservation research to preserve the rainforest and coral reefs. She has also enjoyed learning to rock climb and play West African drums. After graduation she hopes to continue painting while working as an assistant to Ben Weiner, a painter and Wesleyan graduate.
Laura Anne Geronimo designed a major in urban studies that allowed her to take advantage of Wesleyan’s multiple departments. She is currently writing a thesis examining competing theories in urban growth which is opening her to new resources that she hopes to use beyond Wesleyan. She enjoys dancing with her roommates or playing snow-football with friends. Her dream – apart from being a professional ballroom dancer – is to explore the world’s cities and become an expert in how they are changing and evolving.
Allison Emilie House is from Pasadena, Calif. She is a music and classics major, and is writing theses in both departments. Her music thesis is about narrative in music and she has written her own narrative album to accompany the written component of her thesis. Her classics thesis is about the theme of anti-epic in Ovid’s Metamorphoses. She has been a writing mentor for the Wesleyan’s Writing Workshop, and as the volunteer and musical mentoring coordinator at Green Street Arts Center. After Wesleyan, she will be pursuing a certificate program in audio engineering at Boston University’s Center for Digital Imaging Arts.
Della Marie Keyser is a history major concentrating in medieval and early modern Europe. Currently, she is writing a thesis comparing the status of saints’ and martyrs’ relics before and after the English Reformation. She has worked in several departments within the university’s library system. She also completed an internship in environmental education at a nature center, where she continues to volunteer. This past summer she completed another internship at a national nonprofit, where she was involved in marketing, event planning, and public relations. After graduation, Della plans on working for a few years before deciding to go to graduate or professional school.
Daniel Lev Kieval has been grateful for the opportunity to take a diverse range of classes while at Wesleyan. He majored in Biology, focusing especially on topics related to ecology and evolution, and spent a semester working on sustainable agriculture and ecological restoration on a farm in Maryland. Dan was active in the Wesleyan Jewish community and was in several music performances as a pianist and a drummer. Dan is graduating this semester and will spend next semester studying permaculture in Israel. After that he hopes to return to the U.S. and work in environmental education.
Julia Anne Leonard is a neuroscience and behavior major. For the past four years, she has conducted developmental psychology research in Assistant Professor of Psychology Anna Shusterman’s lab. For her senior thesis, she is exploring the effect of touch on development and cognition in children. Julia also runs the Wesleyan Science Outreach club which leads after-school science clubs at local elementary schools. Along with a fellow student, she wrote a grant that turned this club into a service-learning course for Wesleyan students, and she teaches this course with several chemistry professors. Julia is passionate about Japanese culture and studied abroad in Hokkaido. After college, Julia would like to go back to Japan to either teach English or conduct research. Later, she hopes to earn either a Ph.D in neuroscience or an M.D./Ph.D.
Joseph Lee Rabison is a senior psychology major from Lexington, Mass. His areas of interest are social psychology and psychopathology. He served as a teaching apprentice for Professor Plous, and plans to work in Assistant Professor of Psychology Chuck Sanislow’s Psychopathology lab in the spring. Joey loves working with kids, as evidenced by his work as a camp counselor, tutor for fifth graders and Kindergartners, and work with autistic children. He also served as a physics and writing teacher for under-served high potential middle school students. Through this work he decided to dedicate his time after graduation to working towards closing the achievement gap where there are educational inequities. Recently accepted to teach in New York City, he will also receive a Masters in Education through the “Teach For America” program. Joey also has an older sister who also went to Wesleyan.
Hannah Ruth Robinson is a molecular biology and biochemistry major from Peru, N.Y. She currently works in Associate Professor of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry Scott Holmes’s lab researching the role of linker histone H1 in epigenetic silencing and inheritance in budding yeast. Over the past few years through internship programs, Hannah has also conducted research on HIV and in oncology pharmacology. She is a member of the Wesleyan swim team and is a teaching assistant for biochemistry. After graduation, Hannah plans to work as a research assistant in oncology for two years before attending medical school.
James Hart Schultheis is a philosophy major from Long Island, N.Y. Volunteering for the Green Street Arts Center and the NEAT mentoring program, he has had the opportunity to establish friendships at Wesleyan and in the wider Middletown Community. Both in and outside of the classroom he has taken advantage of Wesleyan’s openness to different methods of understanding and communication, engaging with philosophy as well as the visual arts, music and dance. After graduation, James hopes to spend time teaching abroad.
Joanna Karin Seirup is a double major in psychology and religion. She works in the Reasoning and Decision Making Lab with Associate Professor of Psychology Andrea Patalano studying when and why people wait for non-instrumental information. She is a teaching apprentice for both Social Psychology and Applied Data Analysis, and works as a tutor in the Quantitative Analysis Center. She is also a member of Wesleyan Clinic Escorts and is training to become an EMT. After graduation, she hopes to move back to her hometown of New York City and work with a non-profit organization.
Emma Ariane Sherr-Ziarko is a theater major who comes from Northampton, Mass. She has performed in five Theater Department Productions here at Wesleyan, done work for the Second Stage theater organization, is co-chair of the department’s Majors Committee, and is a student member of the “Outside the Box Committee.” Also a student of Spanish, English, and Dance, Emma has chosen to do an Acting Thesis. For the written portion, she will explore the classic representation of “the villain” and how this role has maintained its relevance even on the contemporary stage. For the performance portion, Emma recently shared the title role in the Theater Department’s production of Richard III. After Wesleyan, she hopes to attend acting school and one day become a professional theater artist.
Joel Benjamin Specter is math major from Sutton, Mass. He is studying at Harvard University this semester.
“Jenna” Yang Wan Jun a Freeman Asian Scholar from Malaysia is an Economics and Physics major. Throughout her Wesleyan career, she has been involved in the Wesleyan Christian Fellowship and served as a House Manager and Resident Advisor with Residential Life. She will be writing her honors thesis on the experimental measurement of the stress tensor in a quasi 2-D granular gas. After she graduates she will be working as a research analyst at the Brattle Group, an economic consulting firm in Washington D.C. She aspires to dedicate her life to non-profit work in her hometown in Malaysia.