Proud parents crowded the stage at Lisner Auditorium Saturday for the induction ceremony for Phi Beta Kappa, an honor society that inducts only 1 percent of college graduates nationwide.
The new members of Phi Beta Kappa joined the ranks of leaders in what Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Donald Lehman said is “generally considered the most premier society of liberal learning” in the country.
Members of Phi Beta Kappa include GW alumni Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., and New York Times investigative reporter Diana Henriques.
The ceremony’s keynote speaker and GW honorary degree recipient, Jeanne Narum, discussed perspectives on creative leadership in her address.
“Let me recommend that you seek out stories from people making a difference in any and all aspects of life,” said Narum, director of the nonprofit organization Project Kaleidoscope. “Take those stories onto the dance floors and balconies of your own life.”
Narum encouraged the inductees to reflect regularly on their own accomplishments with the question, “As you look back on your life, of what are you the most proud?”
University President Steven Knapp shared his own pride with induction guests. The new inductees, he said, represent “only the most outstanding graduates.”
Also in attendance at Saturday’s ceremony was Christel McDonald, former president of the D.C.-area Phi Beta Kappa Association.
In a lighthearted address, McDonald said that at her own induction ceremony, she only understood Phi Beta Kappa membership as an honor after seeing it mentioned in newspaper obituaries.
“You do not need to wait for your obituaries to use your Phi Beta Kappa key,” McDonald said. “I make you laugh, but I’m serious.”
McDonald encouraged the graduates to network with their Phi Beta Kappa colleagues and allow the gold key pins they received as new members to help them professionally.
“The distinction that you’ve earned through your hard work works almost like magic,” she said. “It will almost always open a second door for you. Your key – wear it with pride. It will be your companion for the rest of your life.”