College of Liberal Arts and Sciences inducts 38 students into Phi Beta Kappa Society

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group photo of phi beta kappa inductees
Phi Beta Kappa inductees. Photo by Leah Yetter

MACON — Thirty-eight students were inducted into the prestigious Phi Beta Kappa Society by Mercer University’s Zeta of Georgia Chapter for the 2022-2023 academic year. 

Prospective Phi Beta Kappa inductees are usually seniors among the top 10 percent of their graduating class who have completed a broad range of liberal arts and sciences coursework, including foreign language study and mathematics. Exceptional students meeting the Society’s requirements may also be considered as juniors. 

“Phi Beta Kappa is America’s oldest and most distinguished honor society, and it continues to promote the transformational value of a liberal arts education,” said Dr. Anita Olson Gustafson, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. “I am so proud of the accomplishments of these students. As they graduate from Mercer, I know that they will go out and change the world.” 

The following students make up Mercer’s eighth induction class since the University installed its chapter and inducted its inaugural class in 2016: 

  • Aleshia Allen, a global health studies major from Thomaston 
  • Emily Bacallao, a neuroscience and Spanish double-major from Fayetteville 
  • Keely Beltran, a psychology major from Kennesaw 
  • Ben Browne, a mathematics major from Gray 
  • Sydnee Burke, a Spanish major from Bainbridge 
  • Cierra Crawford, a global health studies and Spanish double-major from Alpharetta 
  • Sara Davila Severiano, a biochemistry and molecular biology major from Atlanta 
  • Ashlyn Donner, a criminal justice major from New Ulm, Minnesota 
  • Nicholas Fox, an art and history double-major from Macon 
  • Ryanne Franklin, a psychology major from Savannah 
  • Komal Gandhi, a biochemistry and molecular biology major from Sugar Hill 
  • Kellie Harmon, a neuroscience major from Peachtree City 
  • Keeli Hennon, a global health studies and French double-major from Statesboro 
  • Justin Henry, a Spanish and public health double major from Macon 
  • Makenzie Hicks, a global health studies major from Senoia 
  • Erika Houser, a neuroscience and Spanish double-major from Woodway, Texas 
  • Lindsay Hunt, a biology and Spanish double-major from Savannah 
  • McKenna Kaufman, a journalism and international affairs double-major from Spring Hill, Tennessee 
  • Grace Kelley, a biochemistry and molecular biology and Spanish double-major from Snellville 
  • Zaina Khutliwala, a computer science and Spanish double-major from Duluth 
  • Alexander John Paul Lutz, a political science, history and international affairs triple-major from Peachtree Corners 
  • Madison Martin, an English and Spanish double-major from Peachtree City 
  • Sophia McWhirter, an international affairs major from Columbus 
  • Sarah Monteiro, a neuroscience major from Lawrenceville 
  • Arsha Moorthy, a biochemistry and molecular biology and Spanish double-major from Flowery Branch 
  • Akash Patel, a biology major from Macon 
  • Param Patel, a biology and Spanish double-major from Rincon 
  • Michelly Pereira, a psychology and Spanish double-major from Marietta 
  • Stevon Porcha, a law and public policy major from Lawrenceville 
  • Annalise Porreca, a psychology and Spanish double-major from West Chester, Pennsylvania 
  • Taylor Porterfield, a computer science major from Covington 
  • Whitney Ray, a neuroscience major from Forsyth 
  • Jesus Rijo, a computer science and mathematics double-major from Macon 
  • Ivia Rollins, a journalism and communication studies double-major from Macon 
  • Matthew Shatto, a philosophy, politics and economics and French double-major from Peachtree City 
  • Madeline Smith, a biochemistry and molecular biology major from Mount Juliet, Tennessee 
  • Matthew Thompson, a chemical commerce and French double-major from Canton 
  • Parker Vidmar, a neuroscience major from Alpharetta 

Thirty-three of the 38 inductees are seniors. Gandhi, Harmon, Kelley, Moorthy and Thompson are juniors. 

headshots of phi beta kappa inductee

“Induction signifies that these students are among the most accomplished students in the country,” said Dr. David A. Davis, president of Phi Beta Kappa, Zeta of Georgia, and professor of English. “This is an extremely high honor, and we are proud of what these students have accomplished at Mercer and excited to imagine what they will accomplish in the future.”  

This year’s induction ceremony took place April 21 in the Presidents Dining Room inside the University Center on the Macon campus. 

Dr. Ronald Crutcher, a Phi Beta Kappa senator and national leader in higher education, spoke to students at the event, and a string quartet played in his honor. While at Mercer, Dr. Crutcher also presented three lectures on the theme “America’s Achilles Heel: Inequity in Education as a Mortal Threat to Democracy” as part of the sixth annual Malcolm Lester Phi Beta Kappa Lectures on Liberal Arts and Public Life. 

Founded by five students at the College of William and Mary on Dec. 5, 1776, The Phi Beta Kappa Society has chapters at 293 colleges and universities in the United States, 50 alumni associations and more than half a million members worldwide. 

Only about 10 percent of the nation’s institutions of higher learning have Phi Beta Kappa chapters. And only about 10 percent of the arts and sciences graduates of these distinguished institutions are invited to join the Society, which makes the invitation process one of the most selective in the nation. Noteworthy members include 17 U.S. presidents, 42 U.S. Supreme Court justices and more than 150 Nobel laureates.

About the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences 

Mercer University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences serves as the academic cornerstone of one of America’s oldest and most distinctive institutions of higher learning. The oldest and largest of Mercer’s 12 schools and colleges, it is a diverse and vibrant community, enrolling more than 1,900 students, dedicated to learning and service through the practice of intellectual curiosity, respectful dialogue and responsible citizenry. The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences offers majors in more than 30 areas of study, including more than a dozen pre-professional academic tracks, with classes taught by an outstanding faculty of scholars. In 2015, Mercer was awarded a chapter of The Phi Beta Kappa Society, the nation’s most prestigious academic honor society that recognizes exceptional achievement in the arts and sciences. For more information, visit liberalarts.mercer.edu

Jennifer Falk is the director of digital communications at Mercer University and editor-in-chief of The Den. She creates and supervises the development of written and multimedia content for primary University web pages and e-newsletters, including The Den and This Week @ Mercer. In addition, she collaborates with schools and offices to maintain web content and examines data and analytics to drive content creation decisions. She also serves as a member of the University's social media committee.