Maria Oliveira ’21 (CLAS), president of the Student Government Association at UConn Stamford, is one of just 20 students in the country selected as a Key into Public Service Scholar by The Phi Beta Kappa Society, the nation’s most prestigious academic honor society.
The award recognizes students who have demonstrated interest in working in the public sector and possess a strong academic record in the arts, humanities, mathematics, natural sciences, and social sciences. Public Service Scholars receive a $5,000 undergraduate scholarship and will participate in late June in a virtual conference to provide them with training, mentoring, and reflection on pathways into active citizenship in the tradition of Phi Beta Kappa’s founders.
Oliveira, a New Canaan native, is a senior honors history major with a minor in mathematics whose academic achievements includes being named a Babbidge Scholar in 2019 and 2020 and earning the 2019 Cohen and Henes Scholarship for Judaic Studies, the 2019 Award for Outstanding Achievement in Mathematics, and the 2018 Award for Outstanding Achievement in Chemistry. A member of both the Phi Beta Kappa and Phi Kappa Phi Societies, she is a dean’s list student who holds a 4.0 GPA after her third year.
“I am deeply honored to be included among students who are representing the value of a liberal arts education, especially in public service careers,” says Oliveira, who plans to attend law school and pursue a career with the U.S. Department of State. “I have always wanted to go into public service and give back to my community and country, and in studying history I have discovered my passion for international affairs and foreign policy. The liberal arts education I have received at UConn Stamford has played an integral role in both my career and personal development, in that I have been able to explore a wide range of disciplines, and challenge and refine my perspectives. With this scholarship, I will continue to challenge myself academically, and work hard to develop the tools I need to become an effective public servant.”
Oliveira’s community service includes serving the past two years as a tutor for high school students in calculus and chemistry at Fairfield Academic Services in Greenwich. She also has worked since last year as a legal research assistant at The Wallman Law Firm in New Canaan.
She served in various positions in the UConn Stamford SGA before her election as president in 2019. In addition to leading the SGA, she is a member of the Honors Student Leadership Board, where she is co-community engagement coordinator. She is a founding member and vice president of the Next Generation Business Association at UConn Stamford.
She is currently writing an honors thesis examining the 16th and 17th century Portuguese empire in India. Her previous academic research projects include an analysis of the role of Catholicism in transforming indigenous society and institutions in Angola, a review of postwar Japan’s transition to a pacifist and democratic society, and study of the Truman Administration’s rhetoric and policies that shaped the American public’s perception of communism.
“The academic achievement, breadth and depth in the liberal arts and sciences, and demonstrated interest in public service of these accomplished students truly stand out, even among the many impressive applicants we reviewed from our chapter campuses across the nation,” says Frederick M. Lawrence, chief executive officer of Phi Beta Kappa. “At this time in our country when the value of expertise, experience, and service is very clear, the Society proudly applauds them for their pursuit of liberal arts and sciences excellence in the public interest.”
Founded in 1776, The Phi Beta Kappa Society is the nation’s most prestigious academic honor society. It has chapters at 290 colleges and universities in the United States, nearly 50 alumni associations, and more than half a million 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.