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My Honor Society Angst

As second chair (read fourth) flute in the middle school orchestra, I had my eyes closed. We all did. Although the gymnasium, a stand-in for an auditorium, was echo-chamber quiet, I sat in anticipation for something wondrous to occur, though I had no idea what form wonderful would take. Then there was the russle of clothing and movement, and an aftermath of retreating footsteps.

Upon cue, I opened my eyes. Several of my friends were standing, and in the bleachers, I saw several others doing the same. As I looked toward the non-band area I also saw several parental-types. I squinted – I was too vain to wear my glasses in public during those years – to find mine.

But they were not there. Perhaps they were just late.

Before I wondered if I should stand up, too, the MC, a person long erased from my memory, announced that those standing, were the best of the best, cream of the crop, top of the heap students (or it least it seemed like what they said) in the school and that they were the newest inductees into the National Junior Honor Society.

What followed for them was a special pizza party with their families. Throughout the rest of the year, they met as an elite group and received accolades during eighth-grade graduation. For me, I went back to class and graduated with no special designation.

At the time I could not appreciate the hard work my friends probably put into getting to that point. I suspect I was ungraceful about this personal rejection. And to be fair – I was not the best student. Though in honors classes, I did not fathom a word our pre-algebra teacher said, much less the science teachers, and ultimately I gave up trying to excel in my other classes.

So here I am, a late bloomer to the joys of learning, and just now really understanding I never truly unpacked my honor society heartbreak from the bitterness suitcase.

One day this past semester I opened my email to find an invitation to join Phi Kappa Phi, a liberal arts national honor society (Radford University has a chapter).

I mentioned it to one of my grad school friends, who also received an invitation (as did another couple of friends at other colleges). And we all wondered if the college honor society market is much like the Who’s Who market (a great income source for Real Times Media).Ah, to join or not to join.

Then Ken, after hearing a lengthy version of the above story, gave me good advice. If I joined, maybe I would finally unpack my honor society bitterness and put it away for good. Plus, I would get a cool pin, graduation cordage, and a handsome certificate.

So I joined. Ken and I even went to the induction ceremony. I met a lovely fellow grad student, who is the partner of another friend, and we had a great time patting each other on the back for our accomplishments. Yep, I know. And I might not have been the oldest inituate there.

So, now that all is said and done – here are my three reasons to join a college honor society:

  1. If you do not already feel like a smart person, it provides enough bling you can keep around to remind you.
  2. There is an online environment for networking with like-minded souls and this has potential for a variety of applications (new jobs, research, college experiences, etc.)
  3. Phi Kappa Phi provides funding through competitive awards and grants. This is large. I just received a “Love of Learning” award that is helping me afford an intensive bookbinding workshop from the Virginia Center for the Book.

Many thanks to Phi Kappa Phi!

So, now I ask you – are you a member? If so, drop me a line and we can do that networking thing. For more information about Phi Kappa Phi, visit their website.


The Unwinding Path is the blog of L.S. King – photographer, want-to-be printmaker and sometimes hypnotist. By day she is an arts communications officer at a rural university (translation: photographer, writer, and media content provider), and most of the rest of her time she is an MFA graduate student at Radford University.


  1. Congratulations L.S.! Good things can happen to late bloomers-and I speak from personal experience-

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