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From a student’s perspective, what PBK means to UH

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Biology senior Robin Pham was one of 81 students inducted to the Phi Beta Kappa honor society. | Courtesy of Robin Pham.

Eighty-one students were chosen as the first UH students to be inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa Society in a ceremony held at Moores Opera House last Friday.

One of those chosen students was biology senior Robin Pham. Pham said she never anticipated the honor, and she is grateful to be one of the ones chosen to represent the first class of students inducted into the honor society.

The Cougar sat down with Pham to discuss her induction, her plans for the future and how her time at UH has shaped who she is.

The Cougar: Were you surprised when you found out you received the award?

Pham: Yes, very, actually. I honestly didn’t even know that we had a PBK chapter here, and I wasn’t familiar with the significance of it. My family made me realize it was a huge deal.

TC: What was it like attending the induction ceremony?

RP: It was way more than I thought it would be. They brought in all the foundation members that they appointed, people who aren’t PBK members but have some sort of influence over the university and community. So, it was Renu Khator, one of the Robertsons, a Cullen. Barbara Bush is on the foundation committee. They were all very influential people, not just in Houston, but nationwide.

TC: Why do you think you were chosen to be inducted into PBK?

RP: I actually asked why I in particular was chosen to one of the Honors professors at the induction, and he said that one of the requirements was that they look for students who have had a well-rounded education. I think they focus on liberal arts learning. So for me, I think being involved in the Honors College and minoring in Spanish is definitely why PBK chose to select me. I think that was a common denominator between me and all the other students.

TC: In addition to being inducted into PBK, you were also accepted into medical school. How do you think your time in the Honors College helped you reach this achievement?

RP: I feel like at UH, the faculty and staff members truly care about your success, especially in the Honors College. They really look out for you, and they remember you. I’ve only talked to some professors maybe once or twice but they know me by my name, and they remember details about me, which is pretty cool. I feel like my friends who go to other big schools don’t really get that personalized feel. It’s just been really easy for me to be involved in research and get to know faculty members.

TC: What are your goals career wise?

RP: I got into the UNT Health Science Center in Fort Worth, so I’ll be moving there in July. Right now, I think I want to specialize in pediatrics and then possibly go into a sub-specialty, so either do a fellowship in cardiology or maybe intensive care. I worked on a research project with a pediatric neurologist and the project was a clinical project, so we actually got to work with pediatric patients and perform tests on them. I think going to UH gave me a lot of opportunities that I wouldn’t have had if I’d gone to other places.

TC: As graduation nears, what does it mean to you to be a part of PBK?

RP: I definitely feel very honored. At the induction, I was surrounded by people who were doing insane, crazy things that I didn’t think I would ever be close to doing. But what I loved about it was that during the ceremony, they talked about how PBK is a love for learning, which I think is definitely me. I’m not one of those people that is just like “Oh, I’m just going into medicine because of job security and a good income.” I’m going into it because in that profession, I will literally learn for the rest of my life, which I think is something that I love. To be in a room surrounded by people that love learning as much as I do, just in different fields, was definitely cool.

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