As a liberal arts student, being inducted into Phi Beta Kappa is a crown jewel of the college experience. With this year’s ceremony postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic, one student’s parents went above and beyond to make sure their daughter still had her special day.
On April 22, on what would have been her induction to Phi Beta Kappa, Julia Corso ’20 was looking forward to a special home-cooked meal to celebrate her achievement. What she didn’t know is that her mother and father had done their homework — fit for the parents of a PBK superstar — and prepared a special ceremony for her at home.
“It really meant a lot to see what they had planned,” says Corso. “I was, and am, so happy about PBK, but accepted the fact that there wouldn’t be any in-person celebration due to the situation. Being able to celebrate with something so personal and meaningful was really special.”
Corso’s parents, Christine and Vince, reached out to Dave Muha, associate vice president for Communications, Marketing, and Brand Management, as well as the college’s Phi Beta Kappa secretary, to learn some nuances that would make the event memorable.
With their home adorned with sky blue and pink flowers, PBK’s official colors, the Corso’s presented Julia with a makeshift stole and performed the secret handshake taught to new inductees to officially welcome their daughter into the honor society.
“We’ve tried to teach our children a love of learning and are so honored for Julia to be recognized as a member of Phi Beta Kappa,” says Christine.
In the audience, along with her brother, was Star Trek’s Captain Kirk, a running family gag that resurfaced because of coronavirus house cleaning.
“The Captain Kirk cutout has been a running joke in the family for a bit now,” says Julia. “It just happened to be in the room when my parents surprised me, so we thought it would be funny if Captain Kirk was in a photo. I think the photos will be great to look back on for a good laugh.”
Seventy-two juniors and seniors from TCNJ were inducted into Phi Beta Kappa this year. Members are elected after a rigorous screening process that examines broad cultural interests, scholarly achievements in the liberal arts and sciences, and good character.
Phi Beta Kappa is the nation’s oldest and most widely recognized academic honor society, recognizing outstanding students in the liberal arts and sciences. Only 10 percent of U.S. colleges and universities shelter chapters, and at those institutions, fewer than 10 percent of eligible students are selected each year.
— David Pavlak