Brendan Burgess Wins Clark University's Phi Beta Kappa Prize for Sophomores

 01/03/2017 - 21:29
Brendan Burgess is a graduate of Saline High School

Brendan E. Burgess, from Saline, Michigan, has been selected by the faculty at Clark University to receive the Phi Beta Kappa (PBK) Prize for Sophomores, a reward for excellence in academics and an acknowledgement of a student’s rigorous pursuit of knowledge through inquiry. Burgess will receive a $100 cash prize and a certificate at a reception to be held on campus on Friday, October 21.

Li Han, associate professor of Clark’s Computer Science Department, was one of the faculty members who recommended Burgess for the award.

“My colleagues and I thought that Brendan was a strong candidate for the prize, and we were all thrilled that he was awarded the prestigious honor. Brendan is an outstanding student with excellent academic performance, a professional work attitude, broad skills and a great personality,” wrote professor Han.  “We think that Brendan’s success reflects his ‘commitment to rigorous inquiry,’ and ‘the pursuit of wisdom, and the application of the fruits of scholarship and research in practical life.’”

Professor Han also said Burgess is “an effective undergraduate teaching assistant for computer science, a leader in two student clubs (Clark’s Model United Nations and the Competitive Computing Club) and a key member of Clark’s winning teams in inter-collegiate contests.”

Burgess is grateful to his professors for nominating him for the award. 

“They have been major sources of inspiration and guidance during my time here at Clark,” he said.

Burgess recently completed a software development internship at Axispoint Technological and Software Solutions Group in New York City with funding from Clark’s Liberal Education and Effective Practice (LEEP) initiative.  He worked with a production team to develop software based on clients’ specific needs.

Burgess’ internship allowed him to apply theory he learned in Clark’s Computer Science classes in a professional environment, and to supplement it with practical experience building actual software projects. 

Professor Han, who advised Burgess while he completed his project said, “I think that he did an excellent job, as always, even when he faced unexpected challenges during his work there.”

Burgess is a member of the Class of 2018; he majors in computer science and political science. He is a graduate of Saline High School.

The Phi Beta Kappa Society is the nation’s oldest and most prestigious honor society, founded in 1776 at the College of William and Mary. Clark’s chapter of the Phi Beta Kappa Society comprises faculty who were inducted as undergraduates during their college matriculation.  The Phi Beta Kappa (PBK) Prize for Sophomores is an acknowledgment of scholarly excellence as of the conclusion of the student’s sophomore year; it does not guarantee election to the society.

Liberal Education and Effective Practice (LEEP) is Clark's bold effort to advance liberal education, linking a deep and integrated curriculum with opportunities to put knowledge into practice in order to prepare students for remarkable careers and purposeful, accomplished lives.

Now in its fifth year, LEEP projects have helped Clark University students pursue funded and directed problem-based summer projects. The projects—several of which are hosted by Clark alumni—offer real-world application of course material and provide an opportunity to engage with professionals outside of the University.  LEEP Projects also enable students to develop marketable skills, and focus on characteristics the University refers to as LEEP Learning Outcomes.              

This summer, more than 100 undergraduates were awarded LEEP Fellowships to pursue projects ranging from international social action initiatives to internships with leading corporations. LEEP Fellows are expected to devote approximately 150 hours to their LEEP Project and participate in workshops on professionalism and project management.  LEEP Fellows complete a written reflection upon completion of their experience, are able to participate in the Hervey Ross Oratorical Contest each fall, and share results with the Clark community in one of the University’s annual undergraduate student research showcases

“Students who are selected as LEEP Fellows progress through a competitive and intensive series of preparatory activities designed to help them successfully complete their LEEP Projects.  From proposal writing and résumé development, to professional communication and research skills, the LEEP Fellow experience helps prepare students to fully engage in the world and integrate their academic work with their professional interests,” said Michelle Bata, director of the LEEP Center at Clark.  

Founded in 1887 in Worcester, Massachusetts, Clark University is a liberal arts-based research university addressing social and human imperatives on a global scale. Nationally renowned as a college that changes lives, Clark is emerging as a transformative force in higher education today. LEEP (Liberal Education and Effective Practice) is Clark’s pioneering model of education that combines a robust liberal arts curriculum with life-changing world and workplace experiences. Clark’s faculty and students work across boundaries to develop solutions to complex challenges in the natural sciences, psychology, geography, management, urban education, Holocaust and genocide studies, environmental studies, and international development and social change. The Clark educational experience embodies the University’s motto: Challenge convention. Change our world. 

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