BCLA Students Elected to Phi Beta Kappa Class of 2021

The Phi Betta Kappa Society’s Omega of California chapter at Loyola Marymount University inducted 12 students as new members this year. Of the honorees, 11 have majors, minors, or both, in the LMU Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts.

In 2018, the Phi Beta Kappa Society granted a new charter to Loyola Marymount University, following a rigorous three-year application process.

Founded on December 5, 1776, The Phi Beta Kappa Society is the nation’s oldest, largest and most prestigious academic honor society. It has chapters at nearly 300 colleges and universities in the United States, 50 regional alumni associations, and more than half a million members worldwide. Noteworthy members include 17 U.S. Presidents, 39 Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States and more than 130 Nobel Laureates. The mission of The Phi Beta Kappa Society is to champion education in the liberal arts and sciences, foster freedom of thought, and recognize academic excellence.

Meet the 2021 inductees:

Tanya Adib is a Political Science and Economics double major whose research focuses on Middle Eastern politics, with an emphasis on human rights. She is a member of both Omicron Delta Epsilon and Pi Sigma Alpha and worked as a tutor for the Economics Department. Adib is graduating magna cum laude and will be attending UCLA Law School in the fall.

Rachel Cheung is a Sociology major with minors in Chinese and Business Administration. A member of Pi Beta Phi, Cheung received the LMU Achievement Award and served as marketing director for the LMU Entrepreneurship Society and co-operations chair for the LMU Dance Marathon. Cheung will enter the Master of Arts program at the USC Rossier School of Education in the fall.

Galena Cox is a Sociology major and has worked as a peer advisor for the LMU Career and Professional Development Office, student caregiver at the LMU Children’s Center, and teacher for the Washington Waldorf School. She was president of LMU’s chapter of Oxfam America, a member of the Espérer Service Organization, and a volunteer for the Christine Revell Children’s Home in South Africa. Cox’s future plans include working as a preschool teacher at a nonprofit organization focusing on social justice and community empowerment.

Lauree Anne De Mattos is an English major and Theological Studies minor from Hilo, Hawai’i. She is a member of the Theta Alpha Kappa national honor society for religious studies, and the recipient of the 2021 Leonard Simon Blenkiron English Award. As a member of Gryphon Circle service organization, she served at St. Margaret’s Center, a low-income resource center in Lennox. De Mattos is an advocate for prison abolition, has worked as a legal secretary since her freshman year, and plans to attend law school in 2022.

Victor Hernandez is a Philosophy and Psychology double major and a member of both the Alpha Sigma Nu Honor Society and Psi Chi International Honor Society. He co-founded the political student organization YDSA-LMU (Young Democratic Socialists of America) and was elected as one of the organization’s first co-chairs. Hernandez has served as a math tutor for Orville Wright Middle School and a Teaching Assistant for seven sessions of LMU’s New Student Orientation. He was also a participant in an Alternative Break trip to Tucson and Nogales, AZ, focused on US immigration issues. In April 2021, Hernandez presented his research on moral psychology at the Richard Macksey National Undergraduate Research Symposium at John Hopkins University. He has also been invited to Penn State University’s 2021 Summer CUSP program, aimed at cultivating underrepresented students in philosophy. After LMU, Hernandez is considering graduate studies in either philosophy or psychology.

Kiana Karimi is a Political Science and French double major with an Applied Mathematics minor. She interned for Vice President Kamala Harris as a field intern monitoring environment and infrastructure issues in six California counties. Karimi has assumed campus leadership roles as the ASLMU Associate Justice and the President of Phi Delta Phi, the pre-law honor society. She is also a Mathematics Department Teaching Assistant and a member of Camp Kesem, an organization that supports children through and after a parent’s cancer. Her honors thesis examines how TikTok, an unstudied medium, affects political attitudes and behaviors. Karimi will apply to law school and hopes to work for the Department of Justice and possibly enter the arena of politics.

Rachel King is a Political Science major with a double minor in Spanish and Women’s and Gender Studies. She has conducted research on eco-gentrification and the disparity in access to parks in New York City and Richmond, Virginia. King is currently on the Executive Board of ECO Students, an environmental club dedicated to promoting environmental justice and campus sustainability and is also active in Divest LMU, which seeks to transition LMU’s endowment away from fossil fuels. Her future plans are to pursue a PhD in Women’s and Gender Studies and begin a career in academia.

Elsie Mares is a Political Science major with a minor in Economics. Throughout her undergraduate career she has been involved with and held leadership roles in the Belles Service Organization, Phi Delta Phi Pre-Law Honor Society, and Intercultural Facilitator Program. In 2020-2021, Mares served as ASLMU Vice President, working to expand the menstrual hygiene initiative and spearheading a re-organization of ASLMU’s structure. Mares was the Fall 2019 Hansard Fellow, studying abroad in London, England, while interning with a member of Parliament, and has held internships with the United Farmworkers Foundation, Gavin Newsom’s gubernatorial election campaign, and EMILY’s List. She has participated in the Student Undergraduate Research Program and was a research assistant with the Political Science department. Mares is a member of Alpha Sigma Nu, the Jesuit honors society, has been awarded a Presidential Citation and the Political Science Department’s Chan Award, and is the inaugural recipient of the Arrupe Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Award. Following graduation, Mares will relocate to Washington DC to work with a peacebuilding organization through the Scoville Peace and Security Fellowship, with the intention of pursuing a career in public interest law and policy.

Rachel Meilak is a Mathematics major, German minor, and member of the University Honors Program. She is the Director of Records for Gryphon Circle, an LMU service organization focusing on education as a social justice issue, and a member of LMU’s chapter of Alpha Sigma Nu, the honor society of Jesuit colleges and universities. She works as a math tutor in the Academic Resource Center and volunteers with iTutors, providing help to students in LAUSD. Meilak is looking forward to completing a Research Experiences for Undergraduates program at Virginia Commonwealth University this summer, conducting research on one of two projects: Vaccination Game Theory or Applying Social Network Theory to College Students. She plans to attend a graduate program in Mathematics, with the goal of teaching Mathematics at the high school or community college level.

Cole Melton is Biology major with a Business Administration minor and a Presidential Scholar recipient. His various involvements on campus include the service organization Crimson Circle, Beta Theta Pi, and the on-campus Bike shop. Melton conducts HIV research and volunteers at the Hollywood Sunset Free Clinic providing medical care to vulnerable populations. His future plans included attending medical school, with the goal of becoming an orthopedic surgeon.

Jonathon Eamon Shaw is a second-year Economics and Spanish double major. He serves as a Rains Research Assistant in the Economics Department studying moral salience and has experience as a Mathematics Teaching Assistant and Academic Resource Center course tutor. As a member of Ignatians, a service organization dedicated to the promotion of social justice, Shaw is most passionate about the issue of equitable access to healthcare. He held an immersive pharmacy internship in Oruro, Bolivia, studying international profiles of healthcare systems and culturally competent care practices. Furthermore, he will soon complete Emergency Medical Technician training. After his time at LMU, Shaw plans to attend medical school and to pursue a career in public health.

Aidan Smith-Fagan is an International Relations and Film and TV Production double major. He is also a member of Sigma Iota Rho, an honors society for international studies. Smith-Fagan has volunteered with LMU’s Campus Ministry Program and currently works for LMU’s Political Science/International Relations Department.