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2012

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Phi Beta Kappa and love of learning

Joining JMU’s inaugural Phi Beta Kappa class was a capstone to my Madison Experience 

By Allison Gould (’10)  

Allison Gould stands outside with a scenic background.
School of Media Arts and Design major Allison Gould ('10) says being tapped for JMU's inaugural Phi Beta Kappa class was a capstone to her Madison Experience. Gould is an intern with the U.S. Forest Service. 

I cannot count how many late nights I’ve spent in the library during the last four years or how many times I have asked professors to talk about my projects and papers. When I received my invitation to become an inaugural member of JMU’s chapter of Phi Beta Kappa I was surprised, overjoyed that hard work pays off and also a little bit proud. 

It was like seeing a semester of hard work pay off, but on a much grander scale. I was recognized with 134 of my peers for our dedication to excellence. Our induction into JMU’s inaugural Phi Beta Kappa class is not just about recognizing academic achievements, but it’s also about our commitment to preparing for the future. 

My Madison Experience has helped me prepare for a successful, enlightened and open-minded lifetime of learning. In the coming years, many more students will make the pledge and commitment to uphold the principles of Phi Beta Kappa. When the national Phi Beta Kappa Society announced its decision to invite JMU to charter its own chapter in October 2009, JMU Provost Douglas Brown said, “If you look at landmark events in the university’s history, this is one of them.” Only about 10 percent of American institutions are invited to join the elite company of Phi Beta Kappa societies, so I am extremely proud to be part of this legacy. 

During my four years at JMU, I valued every opportunity to expand my horizons and soak up knowledge. My commitment to embracing learning and keeping an open mind has definitely shaped my Madison Experience. I came in freshman year as a media arts and design major, and then decided to add a Spanish major and a minor in political communications. When people ask me how I have managed a double major and minor, I just smile and say, “I love to learn.” That’s one of the reasons that I did an Alternative Spring Break to help build a children’s camp in Redwoods National Park. We did everything from clearing new hiking trails with machetes to building bridges and planting ferns. The trip was definitely geared toward environmental preservation, but it was rewarding to know my hard work would be enjoyed by summer campers. I learned how incredible nature is and the importance of appreciating our forests. Service, lifetime learning, trying new things — they are all part of the Madison Experience.

When my classmates and I were inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, the JMU chapter president Charles Blake, a political science professor, noted one of Phi Beta Kappa’s principles, “Love of learning is the guide of life.” He continued, “JMU’s mission aligns closely with Phi Beta Kappa’s goals. Reasoned inquiry and heartfelt exploration are central to JMU’s efforts to help students become educated and enlightened citizens who lead productive and meaningful lives.” More than 40 JMU professors are Phi Beta Kappa members. It was an honor to join them in JMU’s chapter. For the past four years I have considered myself a student who is always eagerly seeking more knowledge, and I know that my education will continue for the rest of my life. 

As I walked up on stage to sign my name on the first pages of the Phi Beta Kappa membership book, I caught a glimpse of my parents in the audience. Their continued confidence and faith in my abilities have instilled in me a strong sense of dedication and responsibility. Thank you Mom and Dad for giving me the encouragement I needed to succeed. I graduated from JMU in May, not only with a bachelor’s degree, but also with a filled sense of accomplishment and the desire to embrace every new experience.