IN THE COMMUNITY
Association has long conducted service activities within
local communities in support of liberal education and
academic excellence. We invite you to support our current major
service activity: scholarships for Chicago Public School students.
Past efforts have included high school
essay contests, book awards to high school seniors
graduating as outstanding scholars, and interscholastic debate competitions
in secondary schools.
College Scholarship Initiative and Fundraising
2012 Scholarship Recipient–Zobia Chunara
2011 Scholarship Recipient–Sana Iqbal: 2012 UPDATE
2010 Scholarship Recipient–Merita Bushi
2009 Scholarship Recipients–Derrius Quarles and Alexander Langendorf : 2010 UPDATE
2008 Scholarship Recipient–Kenneth Oshita: 2009 UPDATE
2007 Scholarship Recipient–Dominique Barron
2006 Scholarship Recipient–Ramon Lee 2008 Update: 2009 UPDATE 2012 UPDATE
PBKACA Awards First College Scholarship
Golden Gavel Award
PBKACA Award for New Initiates at Local Chapters
College Scholarship Initiative and Fundraising
Since PBKACA’s college scholarship program began in 2005 as a modest endeavor to award one annual scholarship, the program has grown by leaps and bounds. Read a letter (.pdf) from President Judi Strauss-Lipkin outlining the importance of this initiative.
To donate, you can:
- Make a donation online now —
- Make a donation directly from your IRA trustee to PBKACA. Your donation from your IRA may have an additional tax benefit.
- Contact Judi Strauss Lipkin at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your ideas, ask questions, and perhaps schedule a meeting.
One hundred percent of contributions are used to fund the scholarships. Phi Beta Kappa Chicago is a 501(c)(3) organization. All donations are tax deductible and every donation will receive an acknowledgement for your tax records.
PBKACA also established a separate fundraising committee to focus on expanding this program. We plan to expand the successful program in several ways:
- To build an initial endowment of $500,000, which could generate over $20,000 in income per year
- To award one new scholarship from income each year, ultimately supporting four Chicago Public School students for four years of college
- To award additional endowed scholarships, which would be named for their benefactor
- To obtain contributions through planned giving, such as IRA’s or bequests
We thank each of the members who contributed last year and encourage all members to consider making a donation this year in support of the scholarship initiative.
2012 Scholarship Recipient—Zobia Chunara
My name is Zobia Chunara, and I will be a freshman at Yale University this fall. Over the past four years at Northside College Preparatory, I have made high school my own by doing what I wanted to do: play badminton, report for the school newspaper, and give back to my community. Over time, I learned that to be a leader, I first needed to find what I was passionate about, and that would motivate me to push the boundaries and extend my efforts from my school to the community. My ability to effect change has been demonstrated through my enthusiasm for the school paper and volunteering in my community.
As editor-in-chief of my school paper, I shared my passion for journalism with my peers, and encouraged members on my staff to become reporters for The Mash, a Chicago Tribune high school newspaper. My staff and I visited the Associated Press twice a year and continuously pursued investigative stories in our community, such as contacting Mayor Rahm Emanuel about longer school day conflicts in Chicago Public Schools, highlighting students who fundraise money for a teacher who had a brain hemorrhage, and shedding light on accusations against Northside staff for stealing student funds. My passion for journalism not only inspired my reporters to learn about the community and relate it back to Northside; it also allowed students and faculty members to read about, learn, and participate in community efforts and even worldwide efforts.
Pursuing my dedication to volunteering allowed me to strengthen the bond between my school and my community. I have completed over 650 service hours by tutoring elementary school students in Spanish at Hibbard Elementary School, organizing blood drives for Red Cross Club, and participating in a program that helps people with Alzheimer's disease. I especially love volunteering at Misericordia, a community for individuals with mental disabilities. When I volunteer there, I feel that I give those I interact with a greater feeling of independence. These experiences not only allowed me to pursue my interest in medicine but also to pursue my passion for volunteering and inspired me to expose other students to giving back. I enlisted Northside's Red Cross Club and National Honors Society to set at least ten dates when we all visited Hibbard and Misericordia. By volunteering, I and my peers learned how others rely on us, which in turn enforced our understanding of the importance of responsibility and commitment.
Football Coach Vince Lombardi once said, "Individual commitment to a group effort — that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work." My dedication to organizations and teams provided me with the opportunity to interact with remarkable people, nurture my interests, and expand my contributions to my community, bridging the gap between my school and the community. As I mature, I know my passions will evolve, but I am confident that one part of my identity will remain the same — my dedication to what I care about. It is the basis of who I am.
2012 Update: 2011 Scholarship Recipient—Sana Iqbal
It's hard to believe that I'm well on my way to becoming a sophomore at Loyola University Chicago. My first year flew by, and it was well above my expectations. I enjoyed my classes, whether they took place in large lecture halls with world-renowned guest speakers or in small discussion classrooms where I had the opportunity to analyze the nuts and bolts of major theories. Although it's just a few steps away from home, Loyola's campus felt worlds away. I met all kinds of people that introduced me to new studying techniques as well as new restaurants to try. With early morning classes and late night club meetings, Loyola has transformed into my new home, which is something I've never experienced before. I've spent days exploring the campus and admiring the breathtaking view of the lake, but I still feel like there is so much more to learn about the university and myself.
At the beginning of my second semester, Mrs. Patti Ray contacted me regarding the Phi Beta Kappa Chapter at Loyola. I attended the first official meeting where I had the opportunity to meet its members and learn more about this honor society. Mrs. Ray, a Phi Beta Kappa member, and I organized the first Phi Beta Kappa Information Table at Loyola, which was held later in April and turned out to be a huge success. We had several goodies on the table, including information cards about the society (that I designed), magnetic clips, and delicious cookies with a picture of the Phi Beta Kappa key. It was an honor to meet the executive committee of the Phi Beta Kappa chapter at Loyola, and I look forward to continue working with them.
During my summer vacation, I am working with a Biology professor at Loyola doing research in his lab. I was awarded the Women in Science and Engineering Research (WISER) Fellowship, which allowed me to be paired up with a Loyola faculty member and research with them for the summer. I am very excited to get started on that, and I will keep you updated on any major discoveries I make!
Once again, I would like to offer my sincere appreciation for awarding me the PBKACA Scholarship. It was because of your generous gift that I did not have to worry about any financial burdens for my first year of college. I had the opportunity to immerse myself into Loyola's community and set the groundwork for not only the next three years of my education but also the rest of my life.
2011 Scholarship Recipient—Sana Iqbal
PBKACA is proud to announce our 2011 PBKACA Scholarship recipient, Sana Iqbal. Sana provided PBKACA with the following letter (download the .pdf):
Dear PBKACA Scholarship Committee,
In 2001, when I was a curious 7-year-old girl, I sat on a plane that brought me to the United States, the land of opportunities. As I write this letter to the Phi Beta Kappa Scholarship Committee, I can sincerely admit that there are in fact many opportunities for those who wish to succeed. However, attaining them requires hard work, perseverance, and most importantly motivation.
As an immigrant from Pakistan, coming to Chicago felt like I was entering a whole new world. Although my parents had stable jobs in Pakistan, they knew America offered world-class education for their children. I watched them abandon their dreams so my siblings and I could achieve ours. In a plunging economy, they began working late hours, sometimes even two jobs. Seeing them work so hard, I knew I wanted to grow up to live a comfortable life where I could pay them back. Education was the key. That was when I developed my passion for learning.
I enrolled into the International Baccalaureate Programme at Nicholas Senn High School. Surrounded by students who I now call my second family, I challenged myself to take college leveled courses while writing long papers and participating in numerous community service projects around Chicago. There, I discovered my passion for the sciences, especially biology because of its relevance to the human body and our everyday lives. Within four years, I transformed into a well-rounded, motivated student, graduating as valedictorian of Senn's class for 2011.
With the help of PBKACA, this fall I will take my enthusiasm for learning to Loyola University Chicago. I listed myself as an undecided major in their liberal arts college. This is because there are various subjects within the sciences that interest me. I would like to study them before I chose one as a major to become an expert on. Additionally, IB has allowed me to have international-mindedness. Because of this, I enjoy learning about different cultures and religions. At Loyola, I plan to take advantage of the numerous courses offered to study Spanish and take part in religious studies.
After Loyola, I see myself going for further education in graduate school. I am determined to study science mostly because the field of medicine has always intrigued me. It would be my dream to be a part of it, whether I am a doctor or a scientist researching and making discoveries.
My parents always wanted to have their children grow up to live happy, successful lives, and I am determined to achieve that. I am certain that I possess many of the qualities that make a well-rounded college student. My capacity for learning is endless. With the support of my family and scholarships, I will be able to reach my goals that will not only make a difference in my life, but also in the lives I wish to change with my education and research.
2010 Scholarship Recipient - Merita Bushi
PBKACA is proud to announce our 2010 PBKACA Scholarship recipient, Merita Bushi, graduating this year from Northside College Prep High School.
Her teachers and mentors have used many words to describe Merita: incisive intellect, productive, passionate, inquisitive, curious, independent thinker, balanced, humble, altruistic, and dedicated to family. She is an only child and the first in her Albanian family to be in America. Her first trip back to her mother's home in a small village in Macedonia in the summer of 2006 cemented her goal of becoming a pediatric oncologist and created a dream of starting a small clinic there with basic, necessary medical services. She will be attending Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, a small liberal arts college where she can start on her pre-med track while obtaining a solid foundation of liberal arts, social sciences, psychology, and science courses.
Merita also has a bent towards politics, and she has been involved in the Mikva Challenge, a non-profit organization that seeks to foster civic leadership in Chicago high school youth. Through the program, she took a weeklong trip to New Hampshire to participate in the 2008 Presidential primary.
She readily admits that she came to high school as a timid, sheltered freshman. With challenging classes, she developed her intellect. Through the Mikva challenge, she learned about community involvement and political activism. Her teachers and her principal, Barry Rodgers, helped her develop her time management and leadership skills as well as her focused career motivations.
In short, Merita is a young person of remarkable intellect with a down-to-earth personal presence whom we expect in a few years to earn her PBK key!
In December 2010, Merita provided PBKACA with the following letter (download the .pdf to see the photos that accompany the letter):
Dear PBKACA Scholarship Committee,
As I sit down to tell you about my amazing first semester at Macalester College, the one thing that didn't
cross my mind too often over the semester was the financial burden of college. That's because this
scholarship allowed me to enjoy and fully immerse myself in what Macalester and St. Paul had to offer
without finances holding me back. This scholarship also allowed me a head start on my savings so that
by the time I graduate, I can repay my loans with a little more ease. Some friends that I've made at
Macalester had to decide whether they would forgo the opportunities Macalester had to offer for a
cheaper state school. I cannot express in words how grateful I am that I haven't had to deal with this
type of dilemma. I'll try to explain why that type of decision would be so hard by telling you about how I
spent my first semester at Macalester.
My first week at Macalester was jam-packed with orientation activities/events, new names and faces,
and parents everywhere. We were all exhausted by the end of the week and before we knew it, it was
time for classes to start. September was a major transitioning month. Classes were structured
differently, dorms were a new experience, and there were so many new clubs to try out.
This semester I had one large lecture class (with about 40 students), a medium sized introductory class,
and two smaller classes (with about 15 students). Most of the classes (even the lecture class) provided
an intimate experience with professors who were always available (and this sometimes included the
weekends, too!). Sometimes I would go to office hours to introduce myself to professors and end up
sitting for an hour talking about a wide range of topics. The professors' love for their subject is evident in
their teaching styles and most professors are actively involved in the campus (which is invaluable for
such a small campus). One of the harder things about college classes is the differences in pace, course
load, and grades. In high school, when teachers said that one year of an AP course is equivalent to a
semester, they weren't exaggerating. The reason the course load seems to be more difficult is because
the classes move at such a quick pace. In particular, the amount of readings seemed exponentially larger
than in high school. Coming from four high school years during which I thought I had developed strong
time management skills, I still found myself staying up later than I expected to on some nights. The
course load is also difficult because every assignment is given a higher value. There isn't any "busy work"
in college, so that makes a large part of grades dependent on exams and large papers. Despite this, I
found it refreshing to be in a learning environment where people are motivated by knowledge, not
grades, and are more willing to collaborate with research instead of competing with each other.
This different environment might be the result of the college environment in general. Most people say
that when you go to college, you learn to live independently. While that may have some truth, I think
that I would describe my experience more as learning to live with so many peers. In college, you live
only a few feet away from your friends and classmates. It makes it so easy to schedule meetings or to
just sit and talk. A sense of community is formed almost instantly. And this community isn't artificially
created. When I left this past Friday, some of my goodbyes to people who I've only known for four
months were as hard as my goodbyes to friends in August.
While a strong community is formed and many of us joke about living in the "Mac bubble," the college
offers many opportunities for us to interact with those working outside of the immediate area. There
are speakers, both known and unknown, hosted weekly. One highlight was in early October when
Macalester hosted VP Joe Biden, Senators Franken and Klobuchar, the Twin Cities' mayors, and a few
other political figures in a rally for governor-elect Mark Dayton. Many organizations also bring speakers to campus or host trips to various locations in the Twin Cities. I remember doing some campaign work in
the local area (which is much different than in Chicago!) and volunteering with MaCCARES (Macalester
Conservation and Renewable Energy Society) on 10/10/10, the international day of climate action. I'm
also very excited to be a freshman representative on Macalester's student government (MCSG). This
position has allowed me to get to know my class, understand how the college works, and make a
difference within the school.
Macalester offers many resources, both institutional and through clubs, that have enabled me to
explore a variety of disciplines. The projects I've partaken in this semester are in large part the result of
the ease and availability with which Macalester provides them. This semester has been promising and
makes me excited to explore new initiatives in the Spring. While I'm happy to be home and away from
hip-high snow mounds, I can't wait to go back and see what spring has in store for me.
2010 Letter: 2009 Scholarship Recipient Alexander Langendorf
This Fall term I took classes in the philosophy, music, and mathematics departments. Social and Political Philosophy was a discussion-based class on justice as it relates to the state. The subject was examined through a succession of philosophical paradigms, beginning with libertarianism and ending with postmodernism. I profited greatly from the varied insights of my classmates. Musical Cultures of the Caribbean was a freshmen seminar, one of several into which freshmen are placed. A regional introduction to ethnomusicology, the class combined musicology, anthropology, and history in an appealing way. Multivariable Calculus is the third course in Carleton’s calculus sequence. I took it primarily as a prerequisite for other math classes. The teacher was exceptional. All three classes reinforced for me the truth that you get out of something what you put into it. Though my high school teachers demanded independent thinking, my learning was less explicitly my responsibility. I appreciate the premium on self-direction.
Carleton College very much identifies as a community. I have enjoyed its active, inclusive campus life and the freedom to find one’s place in it. Already I have met wonderful, probing, decent people whom I am lucky to have as friends, fellow-students, and teachers. On the other hand, I have sometimes felt the college to be segregated from Northfield, the surrounding city. I plan to become better involved with the larger community in the coming terms. I am happy to say, though, that my first term was largely a positive experience and I feel ever-more privileged to attend such a great school.
2009 Scholarship Recipients - Derrius Quarles and Alexander Langendorf
For the first time, our PBKACA Scholarship
Committee has chosen to honor two
outstanding seniors with our PBKACA
Scholarship for 2009. The first recipient is
Derrius Quarles who is completing his
senior year at Kenwood Academy and will
be attending Morehouse College in the fall. Read Derrius' thank-you letter (.pdf). Read about Derrius in the Chicago Tribune.
Derrius has a "laserlike"
focus on high
achievement and is
passionate about his
education, planning to
major in biomedicine and
psychology for a career
as a pediatrician. He is the only senior at
Kenwood to earn straight A's over the first
semester. He also won the Most Academically
Talented Science student in 2007-08, a very
prestigious award to receive as a sophomore.
His courses include nine honors classes and
seven AP classes. His chemistry AP
teacher and principal commented not only
on his "powerful" academic record, but his
impressive array of leadership skills, from
Student Council president to tutoring K-
2nd grade students in math.
Derrius has used his many life challenges
and personal obstacles (including being in
the foster care system for 12 years) to
inspire him to greatness. He told us that he
had almost failing grades in the 8th grade
when one teacher told him he had great
academic potential and mentored him
through high school to this day. The
teacher calls his cell phone daily "just to
see how he is doing."
His poise and maturity and intense interest
in learning as well as helping foster
children with community outreach
programs in the future was one of the
many reasons we have chosen Derrius for
UPDATE (July 2010) Derrius recently returned from a monthlong trip to Ghana, where he studied Pan-Africanism, sustainable development, and alternative medicine with a group of distinguished Morehouse College professors and students. To read more about his trip and see photos, visit his thought-provoking blog at http://derriusquarles.blogspot.com.
Our second honoree is
of Lincoln Park High
School. Alexander is a
thoughtful, creative and
aware student who
considers "education to
be the ultimate democratic equalizer: the
means of social mobility and the root of
economic opportunity." He views
education as not just a privilege, but also
as an opportunity to become a contributing
member of the communities to which he
belongs. He eagerly accepts the
"responsibility of being well rounded and
well-read; intellectually grounded with a
level head." For this, he believes, "is both
the price and promise of citizenship."
Besides his near perfect grades, ACT and
SAT scores, Alexander plays tennis, is cocaptain
of the team and is a member of the
Ecology Club. His volunteer interests
include the Nature Center and the Howard
Area Community Center and his principal
also notes that he "reads voraciously and
enjoys provocative and richly layered
works of fiction which explores the frailties
of human existence."
Alexander's plans as he enters Carleton
College with a possible double major in
mathematics ("enjoying the pursuit of
mathematical puzzle solving") and English
("resonating to the ineffable splendor of
written language") are to become a teacher
and ultimately write a book - "even if not
one to be published."
The PBKACA Scholarship Committee,
chaired by Emelda Estell and Michael
Silverstein, worked closely with Danielle
Cox-Jones, Scholarship Program Manager
of the Office of High School Programs and
the Chicago Public Schools in distributing
and collecting information and applications
to each Chicago public high school. Award
recipients are selected based on academic
achievements, leadership ability,
extracurricular activities as well as
financial need. If they have other
scholarship support, PBKACA will consider
that in making our awards (maximum of
$5000 for all recipients per year) or defer
the award to future years when less
financial aid is available for our winners.
Your donations to our Scholarship
Operating Fund and our Scholarship
Endowment Fund in the past (and as we
continue raising additional funds for
current and future winners this year) are
invaluable. You can donate now by sending
your check to our PO Box or donate online
at www.pbkaca.org. All your donations are
fully tax-deductible, and 100 percent of the
donations go directly to scholarships.
PBKACA also continues to support our
College and University based chapters of
Phi Beta Kappa. Members of our Executive
Board attended the induction ceremonies at
Lake Forest, Loyola and Rockford College;
in addition, chapters receiving our $500
awards included Lake Forest and Rockford.
2009 Letter: 2008 Scholarship Recipient - Kenneth Oshita
Dear PBKACA Members,
Now that I have a year at the University of Chicago under my belt, having experienced all of the stresses of being in college for the first time and having enjoyed my first small taste of independence, my appreciation for your scholarship has done nothing but grown. Last year, I was only just happy to be at school, eager to soak in all of the new experiences and opportunities before me, and grateful for your scholarship for making my college career possible. This year, however, having worked most of my angst and awe out of my system, I face my education and my life with a newfound sense of maturity and determination. I only have three short years left at this school, and I want to take full advantage of them. This isn't just a time to have fun and explore the far reaches of my interests; it is a time to pursue my passions and become the person that I want to be. So, I see your scholarship not only in the context my being at college, but, more importantly, in the master plan that is my life. Your help impacts me now and will continue to impact me for all the years to come. I truly appreciate it, and I understand this more clearly now.
The fall quarter has been going wonderfully! Only a month into the grind of things, I'm still reacquainting myself with everything that I love about this school. The beautiful neo-gothic buildings and ivy colored walls, my quirky friends and professors, rowing on the Chicago River, the Thai place on 55th, the classes, the work, even the squirrels. At the same time, I'm finding new things here to explore, most especially when it comes to my studies. At the beginning of my first year, I was so sure that my future lied in the hard sciences. But, now, I've come to realize that my passions may lie elsewhere. After all, the draw of studying economics at the University of Chicago is quite strong.
It's an exciting time for me, and I can't wait to see where my pursuits take me. Thank you so much, again, for everything. I'm quite happy that I can share my experiences with you.
University of Chicago, Class of 2012
2008 Scholarship Recipient - Kenneth Oshita
Based on the enthusiastic recommendation of the PBKACA Scholarshp Committee, the Executive Board has chosen Kenneth H. Oshita as the recipient of our 2008-09award of $5,000. Kenneth, 18, has completed the International Baccalaureate Program at Lincoln Park High School and will be attending the Universityof Chicago in the fall.
Interested in every subject from physics to philosophy, Kenneth has a nearly straight-A transcript at Lincoln Park, where he also played saxophone in the school band and was on the junior varsity tennis team. He volunteers at the National Runaway Switchboard as a peer counselor, and he has served as a counselor-aide at an annual summer camp for children with muscular dystrophy. Among his awards is a prize from the Veterans of Foreign Wars for an interpretative essay on the theme of democracy.
In the next phase of his education, Kenneth plans to major in physics, though he seeks studies that are "expansive and well balanced." He hopes "to meet new people and to be exposed to different points of view, to discover and try new things and to harbor [his] independence and sense of self." The committee members were impressed as much by his reflective maturity as by his budding philosophical depth. "I suppose," Kenneth writes, "that the same basic quality of imagination that it takes to conceive of wizards and dragons is the same as that which is necessary for understanding Einstein's theory of relativity or even Newtonian mechanics. Physics reveals to us how imagination is ironically the key factor in understanding reality."
The PBKACA Scholarship Committee, chaired by Emelda Estell and Michael Silverstein, worked closely with Danielle Cox-Jones, Scholarship Program Manager of the Office of High School Programs and the Chicago Public Schools in distributing and collecting information and applications to each Chicago public high school. Award recipients are selected based on academic achievements, leadership ability/ extracurricular activities as well as financial need.
2007 Scholarship Recipient - Dominique Barron
PBKACA is proud to announce that Dominique Barron of Walter Payton College Prep High School is the 2007 recipient of the $5,000 PBKACA College Scholarship. This fall, Dominique will attend Georgetown University with a major in international relations. Dominique hopes to become a lawyer and work with international clients. In that way, she can combine her interests in the law and business administration to help corporations improve their international business marketing.
An honors student, Dominique scored in the top 5 percent of students across the nation who took the ACT. Aside from her academic achievements, her principal and teachers have described her as an extremely well rounded, committed and motivated scholar --- “a remarkable young lady.” At Payton, she is the president of Payton for Hope, a group that she helped to found that fundraises for the American Cancer Society. As a member of student government, she helped organize a book drive to benefit victims of Hurricane Katrina. The book drive was a success, with over 700 books collected from students and local bookstores.
Dominique hopes to continue her work in the community and says that she would like to help build a community center for underprivileged children. The center, Dominique explains, would “foster activities geared towards helping such students excel in sports, the visual and performing arts and academics.”
In her spare time, Dominique has been taking flute lessons for seven years. She has participated in the Sherwood Conservatory Summer Flute Institute and auditioned for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Protégé Philharmonic.
The PBKACA College Scholarship --- now in its second year --- is awarded based on academic achievements, leadership abilities, extracurricular activities and financial need. Applications were distributed to each Chicago public high school, and the number of applicants nearly doubled from last year’s total. Five finalists were selected and interviewed by the PBKACA Scholarship Committee, which is chaired by Board members Emelda Estell and Michael Silverstein. The Committee also works closely with Danielle Cox-Jones, Scholarship Program Manager of the Office of High School Programs for the Chicago Public Schools.
PBKACA also awarded $500 each to PBK initiates at several Chicago-area chapters. Congratulations to the following students: David Malec, Lake Forest College.
2012 Letter: 2006 Scholarship Recipient - Ramon Lee
It has been quite some time since I have last written to PBKACA, so I hope you still remember me! I certainly remember your generous contributions that helped launch my academic career. The last update letter I wrote was in 2009 and many amazing things have happened over the past three years.
In 2010, I graduated from the Johns Hopkins University with a degree in neuroscience. I still vividly remember my graduation day when I reflected back on four years of undergraduate study. Those four years were immensely formative in my transition from a — at times — naive teenager to a dedicated young adult, looking to make an impact in society. My college years were hallmarked by a greater appreciation for science and health through courses and research experiences, and a developing affection for photography which cumulated in an 8-month long photodocumentary on a men's homeless shelter in Baltimore. I am also very proud to say that I was inducted into the Johns Hopkins University chapter of Phi Beta Kappa.
After graduating from Hopkins, I decided to take a gap-year and remain in Baltimore to conduct research at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. I had the opportunity to work full-time in the Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care under the guidance of Dr. Marek Mirski. The year was a wonderful experience that provided crucial knowledge in undergoing rigorous and challenging research that will prove invaluable in the future. I was about to assist in studies that ranged from improving intraoperative cerebral oxygen saturation during cardiac bypass surgeries to measuring the effectiveness of new biomarkers of brain injury in patients on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation. During my gap-year, I was extremely fortunate to be surrounded by great mentors and colleagues that pushed and encouraged me in my endeavors.
And in the fall of 2011, I have the extraordinary privilege to say that I began my first year at Harvard Medical School. It has been nothing short of a dream this past year to be able to train as an aspiring physician at such an institution with tremendous faculty. And even though many stereotypes about medical school of fast-paced learning and long nights of studying are more or less true, I have been able to go through this medical school process with some of the brightest and most dedicated people I have met. I finished my first year at Harvard Medical School in June and now am currently conducting a summer research project in Hong Kong aiming to improve HIV and syphilis testing for marginalized populations.
That is a much abbreviated summary of the past couple of years, but I am glad that I am able to share it with you. I remember when I was applying for the scholarship back in 2006 and I voiced my desire to pursue medicine and dedicate my life to caring for others. It makes me so happy to see that I am still on the road to fulfilling that passion and that I am growing as a person along the way. As I am still currently financing for my education, I am continually appreciative for your support in the past. And more importantly, I am thankful that you recognized my potential and drive and took the chance of awarding me the first PBKACA College Scholarship.
Thank you once again.
2009 Letter: 2006 Scholarship Recipient - Ramon Lee
I have fulfilled all my requirements for being a pre-med student but I decided to take a gap year before enrolling into medical school. I'm looking into different things such as teaching, photography, research, and even some type of disaster relief opportunities.
But currently I am enjoying my last year in college. I've been continuing my passion in photography; I am currently composing a photo documentary on a men's homeless shelter here in Baltimore. It has been wonderful and rewarding as I talk to the men and hear their life's story. Also, having the chance to take more upper level classes on neuroscience has been intellectually challenging in a very good way.
All in all, I am certainly cherishing my time at Hopkins. I very much appreciate how the Phi Beta Kappa scholarship has contributed to my experience here. So thank you once again from the bottom of my heart.
2008 Update: 2006 Scholarship Recipient - Ramon Lee
PBKACA voted to renew the scholarship for last year’s recipient, Ramon Lee. Lee completed his freshman year at Johns Hopkins University with exceptional academic achievements. With his goal of becoming a physician and a member of Doctors without Borders, Ramon will be registering as a neuroscience major in the Zanvyl Krieger School of Arts and Sciences. This decision was based on his course in Cognitive Neuroscience this spring which explored the cognitive as well as the biological side of the brain. In addition Ramon told the Board that this year has been amazing: “just being on your own truly causes a change in you!” He also has met so many people from around the world at Hopkins and “I’ve been able to get to know them more and just have fun with them.”
PBKACA Awards First College Scholarship
PBKACA is proud to announce that Ramon Lee of Lincoln Park High School is the recipient of the first $5,000 PBKACA College Scholarship. Ramon will be attending the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign starting this fall with the goal of “being a doctor when I am 40.” Not a suburban doctor, but a member of Doctors without Borders, where he will have administered health care to people from every corner of the world- from the jungles of Panama to the beaches of the Philippines. He wants to heal patients physically, but “by creating strong bonds with my patients, I will heal their spirits as well.”
Ramon is the middle of three children. His parents came to Chicago in 1985. He foresees future study in both math and science with a liberal arts presence. His principal and counselor at Lincoln Park High see him as “appropriately self confident and a straight-out genuine force, with an upbeat spirit and a strong sense of community and family.”
The PBKACA Scholarship Committee (chaired by Emelda Estell and Jon Miller) worked closely with Danielle Cox-Jones, Scholarship Program Manager of the Office of High School Programs, and Chicago Public Schools in distributing and collecting information and applications and criteria to each CPS High School. The committee reviewed all candidates and interviewed four outstanding students for this award. Judi Strauss-Lipkin and Emelda Estell attended the CPS Scholarship Recognition Program at the CPS Board Meeting on May 24 where PBKACA was recognized as a new participant in the CPS Scholarship Family. The Association now joins other scholarship providers such as the Gates Millennium Scholars Program, the United Negro College Fund, the Golden Apple, Shore Bank and the Posse Foundation. A total of $11,269,200 in Scholarships was awarded to outstanding CPS seniors.
PBKACA is committed to continuing and expanding these scholarship awards. If you wish to make a donation in support of the scholarship, you may send a check to PBKACA, PO Box 64-2622, Chicago, IL 60664-2622, indicating Scholarship Fund in the note space on your check. We will also be accepting donations on our website in the near future.
In addition to the Chicago Public Schools $5,000 Scholarship Award, the Executive Committee approved giving $500 awards to PBK initiates at member chapters this spring. Congratulations to the following recipients Barbara Ouderkerk (UIC), Umair Jabbar (Loyola University Chicago), John Luporini (Lake Forest College), Alexis Joanna DiSilvertro (Valparaiso). No awards were given at Northwestern University or the University of Chicago, but both anticipate giving such an award in 2007.
PBKACA is involved as volunteer tutors in the Odyssey Project to help students develop good writing skills.
The Odyssey Project is an eight month course in the humanities for low-income adults. The curriculum is designed to explore great works considered central to Western thought in literature, philosophy, history and art with instructors who are faculty members of Chicago area universities like the University of Chicago, Northwestern, DePaul, etc. The project is part of the Bard College Clemente Course in the Humanities that originated in New York and has spread across the country and into Canada and Mexico. In Chicago it operates in Bronzeville, Rogers Park, Pilsen and at the Downtown Humanities Council office.
The major objectives of the project are to help students, in connection with their assigned readings, to develop the capacity for reasoned analysis and argumentation, and to think critically and independently through respectful discussions with others and through developing good writing skills.
The students prepare several papers based on their assigned readings and that’s where our
PBKACA volunteers come in. Volunteers do not need to know anything about the book to help these students with their writing skills. They primarily serve as a sounding board to the students’ essays, providing feedback as a general reader on the effectiveness of the student’s thinking and argumentation. They do not grade the papers nor offer instruction per se on course content.
Our volunteers have found this a very inspiring and gratifying experience. Katrice Grayson says. “The participants’ willingness to learn and my desire to help proved to be a mutually beneficial exchange.” Emelda Estell says, “The students I worked with were genuinely interested in learning and sharing their ideas with each other.”
Golden Gavel Award
In concert with several community
service organizations, after an extended preparatory effort
PBKACA served as a catalyst in the reestablishment in
1997 (following a lapse in time over three decades) of
debate competition as an extracurricular activity in the
Chicago Public High Schools (CPHS).
recruited the individual skilled in rhetoric who provided
overall management guidance for the relaunched debate
program, initially offered in less than 10% of the CPHS
system. He continues to offer consulting assistance to
the competition, which expanded to cover more than two
thirds of CPHS and became an extracurricular activity
fully funded/administered by the Chicago Board of Education
in 2002. PBKACA members volunteer as judges in a series
of tournaments throughout the school year. PBKACA has
recruited persons with interest/skills in debate, such
as attorneys and elected officials, to also judge the
competitions and to provide technical assistance and serve
as role models for the debaters. PBKACA directors also
participate in the Chicago Debate Commission, an advisory
board providing oversight/guidance for the overall effort
that also includes CPHS educators and administrators.
the conclusion of the annual tournaments, PBKACA awards
cash prizes and commemorative items to key facilitators
of these efforts, the teachers who coach the debate teams
in their high schools. Two levels of honors are accorded
through the PBKACA Golden Gavel program. The first round
recognizes 6 semifinalists from the various competitive
divisions within the debate contests who were chosen by
their peers as particularly dedicated and effective mentors
for their student charges. These were not necessarily
the teams that were the champions in their classes of
competition, rather they were the groups deemed to have
achieved the most with their available resources. Semifinalists
each receive a cash prize and certificate of achievement
this group of six, an ultimate Golden Gavel winner is
selected as the most outstanding performer for that debate
season by the Chicago Debate Commission. This person receives
an additional monetary award and a commemorative plaque
bearing a debate judge's bronzed (i.e. "Golden") gavel.
The winner's school also earns the right to house on-site
a travelling trophy in its trophy display case through
the entire following debate season until the next winner
winners of the Golden Gavel award are:
- William Colson - Morgan Park High School
- Sanford Kaplan - Hope College Prep
- Mark Mouck - Kelvyn Park High School
- Peter Bavis - Steinmetz Academic Center
- Paul Whitsitt - DuSable High School
PBKACA Award for New Initiates at Local Chapters
In November 2005, the Phi Beta Kappa Association of the Chicago Area instituted a award program covering every campus chapter of Phi Beta Kappa within its service territory.
As a key element of the association’s comprehensive effort to support excellence in liberal arts education, the program is designed to provide ongoing opportunities for effective collaboration between PBKACA and local chapters.
Under the program, each collegiate chapter is eligible to designate one student, either a junior or senior, from its annual cohort of new initiates for special recognition. Chapter officials select the student based on criteria defined by PBKACA.
Awards are based on demonstrated merit. Student excellence is assessed on the basis of:
- Academic standing within the peer group of incoming Phi Beta Kappans
- Production of an original, in-depth work of research or other creative product
- Leadership in extracurricular and/or community service activities
All honorees must also have committed to attend graduate or professional school within one year of earning an undergraduate degree, as well as to have accepted the chapter’s offer to join Phi Beta Kappa. There are no requirements regarding either the geographic locale of that subsequent enrollment or the disciplinary focus of future study.
All honoree receive a $500 prize and a commemorative certificate from PBKACA. These awards are presented by a representative of the association. The presentation typically occurs at the same chapter ceremonies at which the students are inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, or at another appropriate campus honors event.
PBKACA sees this as a substantive means to maintain close ties between it, local chapters and each future group of new initiates and to further encourage the work of promising young scholars on behalf of their fellow Phi Beta Kappans who are members of our association.