By SARA BRUECK
Two hundred and thirty-one freshmen were admonished to pick a field they enjoy and be the very best they could be in it at the Phi Eta Sigma national freshman honor society initiation Thursday night, March 30.
Freshmen initiates were selected for membership based on their academic achievements and commitment to living the principles that guide the society. At BYU, initiates come from the top 5 percent of the freshman class.
Noel Reynolds, academic vice president, and Sara Lee Gibb, associate dean of the College of Health and Human Performance, addressed the freshman initiates as part of the evening’s program.
Reynolds spoke on the three pillars of the Phi Eta Sigma society: the well-cared for body, the vigorous and disciplined mind, and impeachable character. Reynolds noted the parallel between the three pillars and the aims for a BYU education.
“Over the years, decades, course of your life, the value of your education will be limited or enhanced to the degree those aims are magnified in your life,” Reynolds said.
Reynolds also commended the initiates for their outstanding achievement.
“We are here to recognize the achievement of these outstanding freshmen,” he said. “The entire freshman class represented the top 5 percent of last year’s high school graduates. These freshmen represent the top 5 percent of the top 5 percent. If you take our highest qualified 1,500 freshmen, they are essentially indistiguishable from those entering Harvard.”
Gibb, the keynote speaker at the ceremony, challenged initiates to live life to its fullest and be the best they can be at whatever they decide to do.
“The greatest hazard of life is to risk nothing,” Gibb said. “I don’t think Heavenly Father really cares whether we are teachers, musicians, scientists or doctors, but whatever we choose to be we need to be exceptionally good at it. You are challenged to be the very best in the field that you pursue.”
Once initiates are inducted, they are members of Phi Eta Sigma for life. Membership in the honor society can play a key role for members later in their academic careers, said Howard Gray, faculty advisor for the honor society.
“The trick of being admitted into graduate school is to not be like all the others,” he said. “You need to be focused in excellence in the area you’re applying for. This is a system-wide index of higher education to identify outstanding students at the freshman level. Graduate schools are familiar with Phi Eta Sigma.”
BYU President Merrill J. Bateman is himself a Phi Eta Sigma member and strongly supports its presence at BYU, Gray said. Gray said both he and President Bateman feel that academic excellence should be celebrated even at the freshman level.
“It is possible your performance in your freshman year is going to make a difference in being admitted into graduate programs,” Gray said.
Newly-inducted member, Alanna Mullen,18, a freshman from Calgary, Alberta, majoring in audiology and speech language pathology, said she maintains the level of excellence required for membership in Phi Eta Sigma by prioritizing.
“I’d like to say I work really hard,” she said of her academic achievement. “It’s something that’s important to me — it becomes a priority. I feel like I’ve been blessed a lot. I don’t do it on my own.”