New Phi Beta Kappa Inductees Reflect on Their Accomplishments

Sarah ParkeJune 11, 20246min
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(Photo by Sam Robinson)

Wesleyan’s chapter of the Phi Beta Kappa Society inducted 87 members — 15 from the Fall 2023 semester and 72 from Spring 2024 — into the organization in recognition of their academic excellence and good moral character during Reunion and Commencement Weekend 2024.The inductees join the ranks of more than 50,000 living members of the prestigious organization. 

Founded in 1776 at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, Phi Beta Kappa is the oldest academic honor society in the United States. To earn induction, students must be nominated by the department of their major, have completed their general education expectations, and must have an average grade of 93 or above.  

Family, friends, and honored guests of Wesleyan’s newest members of Phi Beta Kappa gathered in Memorial Chapel for the induction ceremony. Assistant Professor of Physics M. J. Renee Sher, president of the Gamma Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, spoke about the history of the organization and welcomed the students into its midst.  

Former Director of Wesleyan’s Center for the Arts, Pam Tatge ’84, P’16 gave a keynote address in which she urged students not to take the easy way out. As executive and artistic director of Jacob’s Pillow, Tatge is a steward for the arts, connecting audiences with arts communities at the Berkshires dance center, school, and performance space. She said embracing the discomfort of the unknown and getting out of her own way helped shape her career over the last 40 years.  

“If you can approach your career, your journey, including your relationships, and the process of gaining more knowledge and understanding, with humility, with wonder, with openness, and curiosity, that will move you forward,” Tatge said. 

She also encouraged students to remain lifelong learners, tapping into the research and collaboration skills they honed during their time at Wesleyan as they embark on new careers and relationships. 

For Hannah Steinberg ’24, induction into the honor society continued a family tradition. “My mom was in [Phi Beta Kappa] when she was in college, and my grandmother was in it, so it was something I’ve been working toward during my time at college.” 

Steinberg, a religion and Earth and environmental studies double major with a minor in Jewish and Israel studies, also chose to honor family in her senior thesis. “I wrote about my experience as a Jewish-Asian individual. I was inspired by my great-uncle who also went to Wesleyan and was part of founding the Jewish Studies Department. Carrying on his legacy was really important to me,” she said. 

In addition to her Phi Beta Kappa honor, Steinberg was also awarded the 2024 Scott Prize for Excellence in Hebrew Studies by the Center for Jewish Studies.   

“I was surprised [by the nomination], but it was nice to get recognized by the University,” said Michael Quinteros ’24, “I feel very proud of it.”  

Quinteros majored in molecular biology and biochemistry. He got a job as a research assistant in Professor of Molecular Biology & Biochemistry Teresita Padilla-Benavides’s lab as a first-year student and stayed on for four years, co-authoring four publications and presenting research at multiple conferences. Quinteros recalls winning the poster prize for best presentation on protein structures at the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology conference. He will continue his studies in molecular biology when he begins his Ph.D. program at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in the fall. 

Bri Taylor ’24 came to Wesleyan from Kentucky on a QuestBridge Scholarship. She double-majored in biology and neuroscience and behavior. “This campus is great for undergraduates trying to get into research. Being on campus and my scholarship has helped me be able to explore my future career a lot.” She is very proud of the recently published case report she co-wrote with a doctor at a hospital in Hartford. After graduation, Taylor will work full-time at a hospital and study for the MCAT, in the hopes of applying for medical school.