The University of Mary Washington inducted 34 students earlier this year into Phi Beta Kappa, one of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious academic honor societies.
Founded in 1776 – the same year as the signing of the Declaration of Independence – the organization is dedicated to championing a liberal arts and sciences education. In the midst of the American Revolution, Phi Beta Kappa’s founders recognized that institutions needed to be “a grounding force and elevating influence in turbulent times,” according to its website – a principle the society upholds today.
Notable members include presidents and Supreme Court justices, activists W.E.B. DuBois and Helen Keller, former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and bestselling author Ta-Nehisi Coates.
Nichole Boigegrain joined the ranks of that elite group of scholars, including those who have been initiated into UMW’s Kappa of Virginia chapter over the last half century, since its founding in 1970. But she had to navigate through some 21st-century problems along the way.
After returning to campus in September, Boigegrain settled in to take the majority of her classes online this fall. Then, she realized she needed to update her computer software.
Bam! All files and documents on her computer disappeared – including her class notes and papers she was writing. No amount of time she spent with the software manufacturer or the UMW Help Desk could remedy the problem. Suddenly, all became unsettled for the psychology major.
But Boigegrain adapted, just as she did in the spring when the COVID-19 pandemic forced all classes online and cancelled trips, including one Boigegrain was scheduled to take to Chicago to present her research findings. She remained resilient and didn’t let the disruptions derail her academic progress.
“I kind of made peace with it and accepted it,” said Boigegrain, who will graduate in December. “I decided it would be even better. I’d be taking notes for the second time. It made me study a lot better, so it worked out.”
It’s a fitting thought for a newly minted member of Phi Beta Kappa, which states on its website that members’ curiosity and creativity are essential to making the most of life’s experiences.
In addition to Boigegrain, inducted this year were: