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Monday, July 24, 2017




Mark Samburg ’07 delivers address to 2017 Phi Beta Kappa inductees




The University’s Phi Beta Kappa Mu Chapter of Massachusetts inducted 99 students in a ceremony welcoming family and friends on Saturday.

The graduating Class of 2017 holds 100 PBK members total, including nine students who were elected as juniors. Additionally, eight members of the Class of 2018 were inducted.

In their welcoming addresses, both Mu Chapter President Prof. Alice Kelikian (HIST) and University President Ronald D. Liebowitz drew attention to the fact that 70 percent of the new inductees are women.

“I was the first and only woman of my class of Phi Beta Kappa at Princeton … we live in different times,” said Kelikian, who spoke of the society’s origins as a “drinking and debating all-male society.”

“You capture and symbolize the best of who we are and why Phi Beta Kappa exists — to honor wide scholarly interest and achievement in the arts and civic commitment and strong moral fiber,” said Liebowitz to all the newly-elected members.

Mu Chapter Board Member at Large Prof. George Hall (ECON) delivered a brief history of the honor society. Established in 1776 at The College of William and Mary, only 10 percent of schools of higher learning have chapters, said Hall. “Nationally, only one percent of all students get in.”

However, keynote speaker Mark Samburg ’07, Acting Counsel to the Associate Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and a graduate of Harvard Law School, reminded the Class of 2017 to remain humble in the midst of its academic rigor.

“Just as you shouldn’t underestimate what you’ve accomplished here, you also shouldn’t think that those things alone should be enough,” he said. “If you want to excel in your professional life, you’re not going to be able to rely simply on your intelligence and on the training you’ve received here at Brandeis.”

On top of the external stressors of life, Samburg highlighted that “the jobs you choose are going to have an enormous impact on your happiness.” He quoted Justice Louis Brandeis to drive in one point: “It is, as a rule, far more important how men pursue their occupation than what the occupation is which they select.”

Samburg ended by encouraging the inductees to keep saying yes to opportunities. “If you commit to saying yes to things that fall within your own circle of fun, interesting and important, you can do an awful lot. … I made ‘yes’ my default answer for the past 10 years.”

The University founded its Phi Beta Kappa chapter in 1961 and has since elected 10 percent of each senior class and one percent of each junior class annually. Nominated candidates not only show highest academic records but also demonstrate well-rounded study outside of their major studies and are chosen based on nominating letters from faculty.

—Michelle Dang


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