campus news

UB student named 2023 Key into Public Service Scholar


Published May 4, 2023

“Laibah Mir embodies the values of PBK and the arts and sciences. ”
Patrick McDevitt, associate professor of history and academic director
University Honors College
Laibah Mir.

UB student Laibah Mir, a junior majoring in political science and philosophy, is one of 20 students nationwide selected as a 2023 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.

Chosen from more than 900 applicants attending chapter institutions across the nation, recipients will each receive a $5,000 undergraduate scholarship and take part in a conference convening in late June to provide them with training, mentoring and reflection on pathways into active citizenship. Inspired by the many Phi Beta Kappa (PBK) 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. 

“The society applauds the service scholars for their intellectual curiosity, community engagement and dedication to the common good” says PBK Secretary Frederick M. Lawrence. “The well-rounded education these outstanding students are pursuing will prepare them well for a meaningful, productive and engaged life in public service. We look forward to the contributions each member of the 2023 Key into Public Service Class will make to the nation in the years ahead,” Lawrence says.

Mir is a member of UB’s Honors College ThinkTank. Amidst increasing bans on critic­­al race theory in K-12 education across the U.S., she is currently writing a policy proposal encouraging the continuation and expansion of racial education in New York State.

“Laibah Mir embodies the values of PBK and the arts and sciences,” says Patrick McDevitt, associate professor of history, College of Arts and Sciences, and academic director of the University Honors College. “She was instrumental in the creation of the ThinkTank in the Honors College that draws together students from across the university to research problems in society and create policy proposal to help address them.

“Laibah and her partner, Avantika Sridhar, worked with professor Melinda Lemke to examine how K-12 education in New York can better incorporate diversity, equity and inclusion ideals in the face of anti-CRT movements.

“This ThinkTank would not have existed without Laibah’s enthusiasm and inspiration,” McDevitt adds. ­­“Her leadership was apparent in the classroom and in the final project, an intellectual community dedicated to improving the world through careful study, deep thought and rigorous thought.”

In addition to the Honors College ThinkTank, Mir serves as vice president of the Muslim Students Association (MSA), where she leads the Muslim Women’s Council, as well as co-coordinates MSA-wide events.

“The multitude of mentoring, training and networking opportunities for future careers in the government is something I’m deeply honored to receive through the Phi Beta Kappa society,” says Mir. “I’m thankful that the Key into Public Service Scholarship will provide me with an array of tools to guide my successful entry into public law as a means of beginning to give back to my community.

“I am immensely grateful to have been selected as a 2023 Key into Public Service Scholar by the Phi Beta Kappa Society,” she adds.