Kayla Hoang poses at the Library of Congress.

Kayla Hoang poses at the Library of Congress.

On May 6, 2024, The Phi Beta Kappa Society announced this year’s recipients of its Key into Public Service scholarship program. We are excited to share that UC Irvine student Kayla Hoang was one of just 20 students selected for this prestigious honor.

About Kayla Hoang

Kayla is a rising senior double majoring in History and English. She is dedicated not only to educational advocacy and equity for marginalized communities but also prison reform and providing support for incarcerated individuals. She has demonstrated her passions in these fields by tutoring and working within juvenile halls and facilities with incarcerated individuals. She also conducts research on the experiences of formerly incarcerated individuals pursuing higher education. 

This upcoming summer, Kayla will intern at a nonprofit that advocates for criminal justice and prison reform. After graduation, she hopes to get her master’s degree in public policy. She plans to pursue a career advocating for educational equity and social justice in the U.S. and abroad.

When asked what this accolade means to her, Kayla explained:

“Being recognized as a 2024 Phi Beta Kappa Key into Service Scholar came as a total surprise to me! As a first-generation and low-income student, I didn’t really grow up expecting these major awards or accomplishments. I still feel there are plenty of students and community members who also deserve this recognition for their efforts and passion for providing for their communities. Nevertheless, I am grateful to be named a Scholar and receive the scholarship and professional opportunities provided through this program.

As a student committed to the fields of education and community reform, I remain dedicated to bettering my community however I can, and I hope to continue carrying this integrity and responsibility with compassion and purpose. Being a Scholar this 2024 cycle is a reminder to continue my efforts to make meaningful change through my academic and professional career.”

About The Phi Beta Kappa Society and the Key into Public Service Scholarship

Founded on December 5, 1776, The Phi Beta Kappa Society is the nation’s most prestigious academic honor society, boasting chapters at over 290 colleges and universities across the U.S., nearly 50 alumni associations, and over 700,000 members worldwide. Noteworthy members include 17 U.S. Presidents, 41 U.S. Supreme Court Justices, and more than 140 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. 

The Key into Public Service program was launched in 2020 to recognize students who demonstrate interest in working in the public sector and possess a strong academic record in the arts, humanities, mathematics, natural sciences, and social sciences. Inspired by the many Phi Beta Kappa members who have shaped the course of our nation through local, state, and federal service, the Key into Public Service program highlights specific pathways for liberal arts and science graduates seeking public sector careers. 

This year, The Phi Beta Kappa Society received over 700 applications for the Key into Public Service program. The 2024 class of 20 scholars hail from 16 different states and represent a broad range of academic interests, backgrounds, and institutions. Each scholar will receive a $5,000 undergraduate scholarship and an invitation to a special event in late June that will provide them with training, mentorship, and reflection on pathways into active citizenship.

In the official announcement of 2024 Key into Public Service Scholars, Phi Beta Kappa Secretary and CEO Frederick M. Lawrence said:

“As we recognize the Class of 2024 Key into Public Service Scholars for their academic excellence, civic dedication, and service to others, we know the impact of this program will extend far beyond monetary awards. They will receive guidance and support to navigate the complexities of governance with wisdom, integrity, and dedication to the greater good.” 

Congratulations and Words of Support

Following the announcement of Kayla’s scholarship, she has received widespread support from across campus. Michael Dennin, Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning and Dean of Undergraduate Education, congratulated her, saying:

“Kayla is a phenomenal student, and I’m thrilled that she’s being recognized on a national stage. She truly embodies what it means to be an engaged citizen, and I’m excited to watch as she makes a meaningful difference in the world.”

Similarly, Tyrus Miller, Dean of the School of Humanities and Professor of English and Art History, also celebrated her achievement:

“We in the School of Humanities are incredibly proud of Kayla’s advocacy in the public sector on behalf of marginalized communities, including her research on formerly incarcerated individuals seeking higher education. We celebrate this prestigious honor with Kayla and look forward to seeing all she does in the future!”

Rose Jones, Director of UCI Phi Beta Kappa and the UCI Scholarship Opportunities Program, added:

“We are so proud of Kayla for being named a 2024 Key into Public Service Scholar for demonstrating excellence not only in her liberal arts and sciences coursework but also in her dedication to public service. As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of UCI’s Phi Beta Kappa chapter, we are also excited to celebrate Kayla as the second Key Into Public Service Scholar from UC Irvine, joining fellow Phi Beta Kappa member Karishma Muthukumar in 2021.”

UCI Phi Beta Kappa Celebrates 50 Years

Kayla being named a Key into Public Service Scholar highlights the importance of UC Irvine’s Phi Beta Kappa chapter, and her recognition comes at a particularly important year as the chapter celebrates its 50-year anniversary. To honor UCI Phi Beta Kappa and the many students like Kayla who have benefitted from the program, the UC Irvine community is invited to join the 50th anniversary celebration on June 13, 2024. You can also support UCI Phi Beta Kappa by giving a gift. Visit the UCI Phi Beta Kappa website to learn more.