13 seniors named Winthrop Scholars; 40 inducted into Phi Beta Kappa
Continuing a tradition that dates back nearly 100 years, Connecticut College has named 13 seniors as Winthrop Scholars, the highest academic honor bestowed by the College. An additional 27 students were also selected for initiation into Phi Beta Kappa, the national honor society of undergraduate higher education.
The Connecticut College chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, Delta of Connecticut, was established in 1935. Membership is restricted to students in their senior year. There are two elections annually, both in the senior year. Students elected to membership in Phi Beta Kappa earlier in their senior year are designated Winthrop Scholars, a distinction instituted by the faculty in 1928 as a means of recognizing the highest level of scholarship and academic promise. The honor is named for John Winthrop the Younger. A highly respected scholar, Winthrop founded the city of New London and served as governor of Connecticut, welcoming both Quakers exiled from Massachusetts and survivors of the Pequot War.
“I want to congratulate all the new inductees on becoming members of the oldest honor society in the United States,” President Katherine Bergeron said during a virtual initiation ceremony on May 9.
“An honor society like Phi Beta Kappa is both a symbolic community and a real community. Symbolically, as members, you are connected by common qualities and values: intellectual curiosity, hard work, a love of learning,” Bergeron continued. “All the people who are with us at today’s gathering make it clear that an honor society like this is more than symbolic; it is a real community. Many of you are friends with each other. You are surrounded by teachers and family members who care deeply about you—people who took you and your love of learning seriously.
“This is the love that will keep your life on course,” she concluded.
The ceremony included a poetry reading by the Phi Beta Kappa poet, Kate Rushin. Rushin is the author of The Black Back-Ups and “The Bridge Poem,” which was selected for inclusion in African American Poetry: 250 Years of Struggle and Song and in Lift Every Voice, the online companion, both published by The Library of America. Rushin is currently teaching poetry at Connecticut College and has been appointed distinguished visiting poet in residence in the Department of English for the 2021-2022 academic year.
Rushin recited three poems, including “blessing the boats” by Lucille Clifton; her own poem “At Another Crossroads,” which she said was revisited for the Connecticut College Class of 2021; and an original work she said she wrote for the occasion, “Unfinished Letter to My Little Sister, Sophia Wisdom.”
“We need you to imagine us into someplace better,” Rushin told the honorees. “If ever this world needed your liberating arts, your liberating sciences, your sense of what is fair, it is now.”