Alpha Chapter of Wyoming Celebrates Academic Excellence at UW

woman in formal academic robes signing certificates
Joy Landeira, a professor in UW’s Department of Modern and Classical Languages and Alpha Chapter president, signs Phi Beta Kappa Society certificates for the chapter’s newest members. A ceremony to honor new inductees is 4 p.m. Monday, April 29, in Room 506 of Coe Library. (UW Photo)

New members of the Alpha Chapter of Wyoming at the University of Wyoming will be inducted into the prestigious Phi Beta Kappa honor society during a ceremony -- a celebration of academic excellence and achievement within the university community -- Monday, April 29.

The ceremony, at 4 p.m. in Room 506 of Coe Library, will honor the outstanding accomplishments of the chapter’s newest student and graduate members.

Established in 1940, the Alpha Chapter of Wyoming has been a cornerstone of promoting education in the liberal arts and sciences, fostering freedom of thought and recognizing academic excellence at UW. Through a rigorous selection process, the chapter identifies individuals who have demonstrated exceptional scholarship, leadership and service within the university community. It sponsors lectures, scholarships and other academic activities.

“I will never forget when I was inducted,” says chapter Secretary Mollie Hand, a UW LeaRN Program manager, reflecting on the significance of Phi Beta Kappa membership.

The ceremony will feature a keynote address by UW President Ed Seidel, who also was elected by the chapter as an honorary Phi Beta Kappa member this year.

“We are excited to elect, as our honorary member of Phi Beta Kappa this year, University of Wyoming President Ed Seidel,” says Joy Landeira, a professor in UW’s Department of Modern and Classical Languages and Alpha Chapter president. “President Seidel’s leadership and dedication to academic excellence make him a fitting recipient of this honor, and we look forward to his keynote speech at the induction ceremony.”

Members of the university community and alumni are invited to join in celebrating the academic excellence of the newest members.

The four juniors who have earned the Louise A. Lee Johnson Memorial Scholarships are:

-- Fisher Burris, a Sheridan High School graduate majoring in English.

-- Andrew Speight, a Cheyenne South High School graduate majoring in economics and Spanish.

-- Jolie Strahan, from Wheatland, a graduate of Wyoming Virtual Academy majoring in English.

-- Jessica Yang, a Casper Kelly Walsh High School graduate majoring in political studies.

In addition to the scholarship recipients, 23 new seniors and seven recent graduates have been elected to Phi Beta Kappa. Those newly elected members, listed by hometowns and majors, are:

Berthoud, Colo. -- Amber Holt, B.A. in history.

Casper -- Samuel Bleizeffer, economics; Kassandra Dutro, anthropology; Kathryn Johnson, international studies and philosophy; and Rachelle Trujillo, international studies.

Castle Pines, Colo. -- Samantha Covello, B.S. in biology.

Cheyenne -- Baillie Brandt, anthropology; Adriauna Butler, chemistry; Erica Farris, molecular biology; Kaleigh Johns, B.A. in art history; and Israel Rosales, economics and international studies.

Cody -- Baylee Stafford, English.

College Place, Wash. -- Luke Condie, history.

Fort Collins, Colo. -- Katherine Cowel, anthropology and history.

Gillette -- Sarah Cole, economics and English; and Saad Khan, international studies.

Jackson -- Michael Cestia, B.A. in international studies.

Keene, N.H. -- Alea Denney, international studies.

Laramie -- Joseph Edwards, anthropology; Andrew He, psychology; Adison Linder, molecular biology; and Lucas Regnell, B.A. in French.

Papillion, Neb. -- Emma Jones, environment and natural resources, and political science.

Parker, Colo. -- Madison Schick, international studies.

Pine Bluffs -- Gregory Fornstrom, B.A. in political science.

Potter, Neb. -- Virginia Herboldsheimer, English.

Rock Springs -- Michael Newman, B.S. in political science.

Scottsbluff, Neb. -- McKenna Hackett, microbiology.

Sheridan -- Sidney Wilson, environment and natural resources.

Two Rivers, Wis. -- Natalie Hawki, physiology.

Worland -- Karter Dunham, English and journalism.

For more information about the Phi Beta Kappa honor society or UW’s Alpha Chapter, visit

About Phi Beta Kappa

Each year, 290 national chapters select new members into Phi Beta Kappa. Fewer than 1 percent of U.S. college graduates are chosen. Members have included 17 U.S. presidents and 42 U.S. Supreme Court justices. There are nearly 100 faculty and staff resident members in UW’s chapter. The students who are selected for this honor at UW are usually in the top 3 percent to 4 percent of their classes.

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