This semester, biomedical engineering junior Patricia Thomas was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s oldest academic honor society which celebrates excellence in the liberal arts and sciences. Patricia is the only engineering student to receive this honor in 2020, and only the second engineering student to receive this distinction in the last 12 years.
The rarity of this accomplishment comes from Patricia’s extraordinary success in liberal arts, while pursuing both an engineering major and a physics minor. “I think the additional liberal arts courses that I have taken help me understand potential issues with various topics, as well as how different cultures might view them”, Thomas shares. She credits a course about African-American history from 1865 to the present for helping her understand a time period she had not previously understood and a course in biomedical ethics for helping her develop her ability to “understand opposing opinions.”
This Phi Beta Kappa honor, so rarely achieved by students faced with a rigorous engineering course load, is particularly meaningful for Patricia for the way that it exemplifies who she is: “It marks me as a well-rounded student. It shows that I am able to communicate with others and look at more than the engineering aspect of things.”
Phi Beta Kappa was founded in 1776, and has over 500,000 members. The society “stands for freedom of inquiry and expression, disciplinary rigor, breadth of intellectual perspective, the cultivation of skills of deliberation and ethical reflection, the pursuit of wisdom, and the application of the fruits of scholarship and research in practical life.”