UNIVERSITY NEWS | Veronica Backer-Peral, an Honors Program sophomore with a triple major in history, film and television production, and computer science, has added to her honors by being selected as a Phi Beta Kappa Key into Public Service Scholarship recipient.
The annual scholarship is presented to only 20 liberal arts and science students from the 290 PBK member institutions. The award goes to students who have demonstrated an interest in working in the public sector and have a record of academic excellence, with breadth and depth in the arts, humanities, mathematics, natural sciences, and social sciences.
“Veronica’s experience is signature LMU and then some,” said Robbin Crabtree, dean of LMU Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts. “She is pursuing a rigorous triple-major with a minor, and doing this across four of our undergraduate schools and colleges. This illustrates her intellectual curiosity and personal tenacity, as well as the breadth of academic interests that Phi Beta Kappa values and celebrates.”
“Being awarded this scholarship means so much to me,” said Backer-Peral, who is also pursuing a minor in business administration. “It recognizes the importance of an interdisciplinary liberal arts education for work in the public sector, two fields that I am very passionate about.” She said she is grateful to Professor Nicholas Rosenthal who encouraged her to apply to the Phi Beta Kappa Key into Public Service Scholarship and for providing support and guidance before, throughout, and after the application process.
In 2019, Backer-Peral presented a history research project that won second prize in the humanities category at a 2019 Harvard University conference. Her research explored the impact of the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, on social and political effects in the U.S. and the Middle East. Backer-Peral used her research and filmmaking skills to produce five scripts depicting varying time periods that changed the focus of each country’s history. She currently has three projects in the works: her own computer science/humanities project, as part of the Clinton Global Initiative, using health-related data to compare different internationally recognized health care policies;
an ongoing research project on the public history of the Spanish Civil War, for which she was selected to give a plenary talk at Harvard this past winter; and she is part of LMU’s Global Policy Institute, where she’s met and worked with diplomats and political scientists, allowing her to experience firsthand the overlap between academia and public service.
“The opportunity to join Phi Beta Kappa has been a highlight of my sophomore year,” Backer-Peral said. “I could not be more excited to join one of the oldest undergraduate honors society in the country.”
She also thanked Crabtree and Professor Elizabeth Drummond for their kindness and support not only in applying for this scholarship but also throughout her entire time at LMU.
“Veronica has sought out the high-impact learning experiences that manifest the best of a liberal arts education, such as independent research closely mentored by a faculty member,” said Crabtree. “We are thrilled that PBK has honored her among a distinguished few across the country.”