College of Liberal Arts and Sciences inducts 39 students into Phi Beta Kappa Society

group of smiling faculty and students wearing Phi Beta Kappa sashes and holding plaque
Phi Beta Kappa inductees. Photo by Leah Yetter

MACON — Thirty-nine students were inducted into the prestigious Phi Beta Kappa Society by Mercer University’s Zeta of Georgia Chapter for the 2023-2024 academic year.

The invitation process is considered one of the most selective in the nation. Prospective Phi Beta Kappa inductees are usually seniors among the top 10% 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.

“Induction into Phi Beta Kappa is the highest honor available to a liberal arts student,” said Dr. David A. Davis, president of the Zeta of Georgia chapter. “Only 10% of colleges and universities shelter chapters of Phi Beta Kappa, and only 10% of the students at those institutions are inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, so membership is a rare and significant achievement.”

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

  • Amira Lissette Abbasi, a political science and Spanish double-major from Lawrenceville
  • Naomi Abbe, a criminal justice and Spanish major from Loganville
  • Adil Ahmed, a chemical commerce major from Snellville
  • Atia Bailey, a law and public policy and sociology double-major from Grayson
  • Samuel E. Barrow, a neuroscience major from Macon
  • Sarah Grace Boyer, a biochemistry and molecular biology major from Forsyth
  • Mekai Elanna Brown, a chemistry major from Powder Springs
  • Ryan T. Brownlee, a biochemistry and molecular biology major from Flowery Branch
  • Luke Caldwell, a chemistry and psychology double-major from Kathleen
  • Erin N. Cargin, a computer science major from Canton
  • Kayla Chambers, a Spanish major from Newnan
  • Jamyah Janise Combs, a global health studies major from Senoia
  • Cassandra Rose Carver, a biochemistry and molecular biology and French double-major from Marietta
  • Wendy Lorena Cruz, a psychology major from Lawrenceville
  • Aaliyah Yasmin Deen Sesay, a global health studies major from Lawrenceville
  • Amaan M. Faraz, a biochemistry and molecular biology major from Cumming
  • Dakota Raye Ellis, a biochemistry and molecular biology major from Clarkesville
  • Merin Jaya George, a neuroscience major from Marietta
  • Papa Guerrero, a philosophy and French double-major from Sugar Hill
  • Priscilla Haywood, a biochemistry and molecular biology major from Macon
  • Kyla N. Hudson, a chemistry major from Newnan
  • Olivia Grace Hundley, an international affairs and Spanish double-major from Buford
  • Mary Elizabeth Hendley, a chemistry major from Lake Park
  • Lauren Elizabeth Insko, a biochemistry and molecular biology major from Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Yash Chirag Jani, a neuroscience major from Albany
  • Mcgregor Koenig, a computer science major from Savannah
  • Stephania Lopez, an English and history double-major from Fort Valley
  • Insia A. Merchant, a neuroscience major from Snellville
  • Anjali Rajesh Patel, a chemical commerce major from Athens
  • Paige Renee Riser, a psychology major from Macon
  • Kaylee Nicole Miller, a criminal justice and psychology double-major from Sycamore
  • Eliza Jane Moore, an English and journalism double-major from Chattanooga, Tennessee
  • Seiler Rivers, a computer science major from Newnan
  • Anwyn Mackenzie Shanahan, an English and religion double major from Silver Creek
  • Jaylen Rhea Smith, a psychology an Spanish double-major from Peachtree City
  • Lara Craig Smith, a psychology major from Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Diana Maria Tejera Berrios, a Spanish major from Midland
  • Kendall Charlcie Webb, a history major from Hot Springs, Arkansas
  • Samantha Vaquero-Covarrubias, a journalism, creative writing and Spanish triple-major from Peachtree City

This year’s induction ceremony took place March 22 in the Presidents Dining Room inside the University Center on the Macon campus. At the ceremony, members were formally inducted into the society. They were recognized for their accomplishment and charged to uphold the values of the society to promote broad learning, civil discourse, and intellectual curiosity.

Dr. Mary Dana Hinton, who gave this year’s Lester Lectures, spoke to the inductees, and encouraged them to embrace love as a leadership strategy. While at Mercer, Dr. Hinton presented three lectures on the theme “Discovering Where Love Leads” 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.

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