Mariam Khayata ’22 Named by Phi Beta Kappa as a 2020 Key into Public Service Scholar

head and shoulder image of a college student standing outside

Mariam Khayata ’22, an international studies and political science major at Rhodes College, is one of 20 students selected as a Key into Public Service Scholar by Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s oldest collegiate honor society. The new scholarship program recognizes students with a demonstrated interest in working in the public sector and a strong academic record in the liberal arts and sciences.

Selected from more than 600 applicants attending chapter institutions across the nation, each scholar will receive a $5,000 undergraduate scholarship and take part in a virtual convening in late June that will provide training and mentoring opportunities on pathways into active citizenship and public service.

“I am beyond grateful to receive this opportunity. Rhodes has helped me discover my passion for public service and foreign policy and, with this award, I am able to receive mentorship and training that will prepare me for a career in these fields,” says Khayata.  “I am incredibly excited to learn from professionals, connect with peers from different institutions, and become a part of the Key into Public Service Scholars family.”

Khayata lives in Memphis and is originally from Aleppo, Syria. She is pursuing a minor in Middle East and Islamic studies, and her academic interests focus on how U.S. foreign policy impacts the political, social, and economic affairs of the Middle East. In addition, Khayata serves as secretary and communications director of 901 Ummah, a local nonprofit geared toward Muslim youth and young professionals developing their talents, while giving back to the Memphis community. She also has volunteered during voter registration drives in the city.

“Mariam exemplifies the best of the Rhodes College spirit for service,” says Dr. Jennifer Sciubba, international studies professor and immediate past president of the Rhodes chapter of Phi Beta Kappa. “It is a high honor to receive an inaugural scholarship from the nation’s oldest and most prestigious honor society, and an indication of how valuable Mariam’s work to raise the visibility of Memphis’ Muslim community is.”

On campus, Khayata serves as a Rhodes Student Government senator and chair of its diversity and inclusion committee. She also is a Clarence Day Scholar and works as a digital content associate for Rhodes’ alumni relations office.

“If it weren’t for my professors who believed in and empowered me, I would not have been able to receive this opportunity. Professor Esen Kirdis and Professor Sciubba have been the greatest mentors throughout my time at Rhodes, and I am incredibly grateful for the time they’ve invested in me.”

After graduation, Khayata hopes to work in the U.S. State Department to create meaningful and mutually beneficial foreign policy.