Joining the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi

By Kristen Wagner

Recently I received a letter in the mail, inviting me to become a member of Penn State’s Honor Society, Phi Kappa Phi, as I’m sure many other students have also received. The letter was very appealing and sounded very enticing, but I didn’t pay much attention to it. I didn’t have time to look into it because of all the work I was doing, and eventually it just slipped my mind. Then my mom found the letter, and she was all about it. She encouraged me to look into it further, as I eventually did, and she also encouraged me to become a member. The experience was very memorable, and I was extremely glad that I attended the initiation ceremony.

According to, Phi Kappa Phi is the nation’s oldest and most selective honor society for all academic disciplines. The chapters are involved on over 300 campuses nationwide, and each year roughly 30,000 members are initiated. As listed on the website, there are five eligibility requirements to be invited to become a member of Phi Kappa Phi. The requirements are as follows: Must be an outstanding student of sound character, enrolled at a college or university with a Phi Kappa Phi Chapter, Juniors must have completed 72 credit hours and rank in the top 7.5% of their class, Seniors must rank in the top 10% of their class, Graduate Students must rank in the top 10% of their class, and Faculty, professional staff, and alumni who have achieved scholarly distinction also may be eligible for membership.

According to, the name and logo of Phi Kappa Phi are significant. The emblem pictures a globe against a sun. The rays of the sun symbolize equivalence among the branches of learning and represent truth as light. The band containing the Greek letters encircles the globe, and this represents a fraternal bond between the earth and wisdom. Phi Kappa Phi means “Let the love of learning rule humanity.”

I learned that there were several different reasons to take a step forward and join this association. According to, the primary purpose of Phi Kappa Phi at Penn State is to promote the pursuit of excellence in all fields of higher education; to recognize outstanding achievement by students, faculty, and others through election to membership and through various awards for distinguished achievement; and to engage the community of scholars in service to others. The society also lets you post your resume with them, provides letterheads, scholarships, awards, and much more to its members.

The initiation ceremony that I attended was held on April 11th at the President’s Hall at Penn State, University Park Campus. There was a great turnout there, and it was more elegant that I had imagined it would be. There were several speakers there, the most memorable to me being a woman named Dr. Foster. She encouraged all of the initiates to stand up for themselves, find pride within themselves, and encourage those around them. She gave a very motivational speech that brought tears to the eyes of many, and I’ll never forget her. If you ever have the chance to be a part of this group, I definitely encourage you to take an active role in it. It not only acknowledges your achievements, but it enables you to become more involved in your campus as a whole, and gives you the motivation that you need to make a difference.


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