Published May 11, 2022
Samiha Islam, a rising junior majoring in health and human services and statistics, has been named a “Key into Public Service Scholar” by the Phi Beta Kappa Society, the nation’s most prestigious academic honor society.
The award recognizes students who have demonstrated interest in working in the public sector and possess a strong academic record in the arts, humanities, mathematics, natural sciences and social sciences.
Only 20 students are chosen from almost 900 applicants attending chapter institutions across the U.S. Each scholar receives a $5,000 undergraduate scholarship and takes part in a conference convening in late June to provide them with training, mentoring and reflection on pathways into active citizenship. Inspired by many Phi Beta Kappa members who have shaped the course of the nation through local, state and federal service, the award highlights specific pathways for liberal arts and graduates seeking public sector careers.
“Samiha is fiercely smart and deeply committed to effecting change in the world,” says Shelley Kimelberg, president of UB’s Phi Beta Kappa Omicron of New York chapter and director of the Social Science Interdisciplinary Degree Program. “Her decision to supplement her interdisciplinary health and human services major with a second major in statistics demonstrates a keen awareness of how she could use her undergraduate years to prepare for a career in public service,” Kimelberg adds.
“The society selected the 2022 service scholars for their intellectual curiosity; breadth and depth across liberal arts and sciences coursework; positive contributions on and off campus through academic research, internships and community work; and demonstrated commitment to serve others,” says Phi Beta Kappa secretary Frederick M. Lawrence. “As the world grapples with concurrent health, economic, democratic and climate crises, the society hopes that its scholarship award encourages more of our nation’s top students to apply their pursuit of arts and sciences excellence in service of the greater good.”
As a Diversity Advocate in UB’s Intercultural and Diversity Center, Islam facilitates conversations on “Tough Topics” for the students to address local and national social justice issues. After graduation, she plans to pursue a degree in public policy, social work or public health.
“Samiha is committed to serving others, and her efforts to promote diversity, social justice, empathy and advocacy cut across racial, ethnic, class, religious and geographic lines,” Kimelberg notes. “Samiha is a true role model, both for her peers at UB as well as the community at large.”