JMU Madison Spring/Summer 2012 : Page 10

[ Phi Beta Kappa ] JMU inducts U.S. House historian into Phi Beta Kappa Xi of Virginia Chapter welcomes 119 students B Y R. ERIC WAGNER (’12) T he JMU Phi Beta Kappa Chapter inducted students and noted alumnus Matthew Wasniewski (’91, ’94M) in its annual ceremony in March. Christopher Fox, professor of computer science and presi-dent of the JMU Phi Beta Kappa Chapter, presided over the ceremony and welcomed 119 new students and Was-niewski to the Xi of Virginia Chapter. Wasniewski, historian for the U.S. House of Represen-tatives, is only the second JMU graduate inducted into the JMU Phi Beta Kappa Chapter. Constance Neely Wilson (’70), a board-certified anesthesiologist and founder of Endacea Inc., was the first alum inducted by JMU. Phi Beta Kappa Soci-ety is the oldest and most MA G AZ I N E renowned academic honor society in the country. The JMU chapter works to pro-mote scholarship and honor intellectual achievement. In his keynote, Wasniewski told Phi Beta Kappa inductees to be “open to new things. My career has been very non-linear; if you had asked me 20 years ago what I was going to do my current job would never have come to mind. Networking is extremely important. Put names to faces and get your name out there to boost your career.” As a freshman journalism major, Wasniewski “found” his passion for history by completing an extra credit assignment. “I came to JMU originally because it had a strong student newspaper and I wanted to write. After declaring journalism, ‘Our program teaches you to take a lot of information and synthesize it and articulate your findings.’ — M AT T H E W W A S N I E W S K I ( ’ 9 1 , ’ 9 4 M ) I worked my way up to Breeze sports editor,” he says. “I once wrote about a one-armed fisherman; I really enjoy the people in profiles.” Despite a strong undergradu-ate performance in journalism, Wasniewski says his attention shifted to history after “sitting in on a history class to com-plete some extra credit. I was hooked. I had two roommates who were history majors, and we all loved history.” History was not an idle hobby for Wasniewski. He spent many Saturdays of his youth visiting preserved Civil War battlefields with family. “I grew up next to the Manas-sas battlefield. On weekends we would go to farm fields and hunt for Civil War bul-lets,” he recalls. “Holding one in your hand, you realize something big must have hap-pened. That interested me.” Wasniewski followed his passion for history by switch-ing his major and earning a master’s degree in history at JMU. He completed a Ph.D. in history at the University of Maryland at College Park and later worked as an associate historian for the U.S. Capitol Historical Society. Continued on Page 12 PHO T O G R APH B Y S TE VE J AFFE ( ’ 8 5) 10 MA D I S O N

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