Key into Public Service

To further Phi Beta Kappa’s work as a leading advocate for the personal and public value of arts and sciences education, the Society is launching a new program called Key into Public Service. Inspired by examples of many members who have shaped the nation—including 17 U.S. Presidents and 41 Supreme Court Justices—we intend to highlight specific pathways for liberal arts graduates seeking careers in public service. By associating these opportunities with the ideals of arts and sciences education, we expect to build member awareness of the work the Society is doing to help graduates navigate their careers and emphasize the value of expertise in the arts, humanities, mathematics, natural sciences, and social sciences.  

For the launch of Key into Public Service, Phi Beta Kappa hosted a networking reception on Capitol Hill for liberal arts and sciences students, recent graduates, and young professionals. The summer event featured inspiring remarks from U.S. Representatives David Price (ΦBK, UNC-Chapel Hill) and Bill Foster (ΦBK, UW-Madison), two members of the 116th Congress with compelling backgrounds in the humanities and sciences. 

The event also included a panel discussion with timely advice and career tips specifically for arts and sciences majors from Ellen Stofan, head of the Smithsonian’s National Air & Space Museum and the former chief scientist of NASA; Joe Hack, chief of staff for U.S. Senator Deb Fischer of Nebraska; Kayla Williams, legislative director for U.S. Representative Brian Higgins of New York; and Rick Kempinski, senior manager at the Partnership for Public Service. Juleyka Lantigua-Williams—the CEO of digital media studio Lantigua Williams & Co., former journalist at The Atlantic, and editor of NPR’s Code Switch—served as the moderator. With the Gold Room of the Rayburn House Office Building filled to capacity, recent grads along with interns on the Hill and at other key federal agencies asked compelling questions, now available in short video format. 

The Society also announced the launch of a new pilot public service scholarship program designed to increase awareness of Key into Public Service themes. Phi Beta Kappa will award $5,000 undergraduate scholarships to liberal arts and sciences majors with a demonstrated interest in public sector work. The Society will invite applications for the Service Scholars program beginning October 28, with up to 20 awards announced next spring. Additionally, at a required summer convening for recipients in 2020, the Society will provide in-person training, mentoring, and reflection on pathways into active citizenship in the tradition of Phi Beta Kappa’s founders. 

If you know a promising arts and sciences student with an interest in local, state, or federal service, please let them know about this upcoming opportunity. Find more information and links to the videos at

Key into Public Service and the Service Scholars undergraduate scholarship program are supported by individual donations to Phi Beta Kappa and by the Society’s sustaining members. Thank you for advocating for liberal arts and sciences education and advancing the mission of Phi Beta Kappa. 

ΦBK Secretary and CEO Frederick M. Lawrence with Key into Public Service panelists: (L-R) Rick Kempinski, Kayla Williams, Juleyka Lantigua-Williams, Frederick M. Lawrence, Joe Hack, and Ellen Stofan