Social Sciences Interdisciplinary students inducted into Phi Beta Kappa

Published May 25, 2021

We are excited to announce that eight Social Sciences Interdisciplinary students were inducted into the prestigious Phi Beta Kappa academic honor society in May 2021:

Aleema Arastu (International Studies)
Aixin Chen (Health & Human Services)
Marina Coriale (International Studies)
Natalie Doller (International Studies)
Asbel Fede (Health & Human Services)
Mobin Khan (Legal Studies)
Ann Malcolm (Health & Human Services)
Jenna Spaulding (Urban & Public Policy Studies)

The Phi Beta Kappa honor is a testament not only to these students’ academic excellence and hard work, but also to their diverse interests and intellectual curiosity. Below, inductee Jenna Spaulding (’21) reflects on how her course of study in the Social Sciences Interdisciplinary program embodied the ideals of Phi Beta Kappa.

“What’s your major?” is perhaps the most frequently asked question posed to a college student throughout their academic career. Usually, the answer is fairly simple. With a few words, the people around them create an idea in their head of what the future may look like for the student. Whenever I am asked this question, and prompted to explain further, I go on to excitedly explain how one of my majors—Urban and Public Policy—is part of UB’s Social Sciences Interdisciplinary Program. It’s at this point I usually get a blank stare or confused smile. Because it is here where understanding and the ability to imagine what life looks like for those in this track ends, or becomes muddled and unclear. But this moment also provides an opportunity—an opportunity to illustrate the imagination, dedication, and perseverance inherent to the social sciences and the people working within it.

There is something so understatedly wonderful about the interdisciplinary focus of the social science programs here at UB. I never cease to be enamored by and grateful for the ability to learn and grow through a wide range of disciplines, like sociology, history, geography and political science. It gives me the tools to see problems and their solutions in unique, nuanced ways. These notions—of character, curiosity, and commitment–embody the principles of The Phi Beta Kappa Society, and its focus on the importance of the liberal arts. I have had the honor of being inducted into this group, along with several of my fellow hard-working and conscientious classmates. Congratulations to each and every one of you for your remarkable achievements. Armed with our interdisciplinary education, values, and principles lauded and celebrated by Phi Beta Kappa, we will go boldly and bravely forward—and make our world a better place along the way.

-Jenna Spaulding (PBK ’21) will graduate from UB with a double major in Urban & Public Policy and History in June 2021.