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Western Illinois University alumna Jessica Toops, of Aledo, IL, has been named the 2014 recipient of a Phi Kappa Phi Fellowship. In Fall 2013, Toops graduated from Western and was the College of Arts and Sciences Scholar, the History Departmental Scholar and an Honors Scholar.
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WIU Alum Awarded Phi Kappa Phi Fellowship

July 22, 2014

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MACOMB, IL - Western Illinois University alumna Jessica Toops, of Aledo, IL, has been named the 2014 recipient of a Phi Kappa Phi Fellowship.

The $5,000 fellowship was awarded by The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi.

Toops received her bachelor's degree in history, with a minor in English, in Fall 2013. She will now continue her studies in Northern Ireland.

"In September, I will be moving to Belfast, Northern Ireland, where I will attend Queen's University Belfast (QUB) and pursuing my master's degree in Irish studies," Toops said. "I received an international student bursary from QUB that will cover 100 percent of my tuition/fees, but has no maintenance component. The fellowship from Phi Kappa Phi will make it possible for me to afford my living expenses in Belfast."

Toops said she was honored to be WIU's nominee for the national fellowship.

"I had an amazing support system while at WIU through the history department and the Honors College, without whom I may not have received this award," she said. "Dr. Jennifer McNabb and Dr. Jill Myers, in particular, deserve my special thanks for their guidance with the fellowship application."

After completing her degree in Northern Ireland, Toops plans to apply to doctoral programs in history, and she has a goal of teaching at the university level.

WIU history Professor Jennifer McNabb has served as Toops' thesis adviser and mentor. She called the Phi Kappa Phi Fellowship a "fitting tribute" to Toops' undergraduate career and to her potential for continued academic success at QUB.

"Jessica was an exceptional student during her time at WIU, and she served as an excellent ambassador of the Department of History, the College of Arts and Sciences and the Centennial Honors College," McNabb said. "Her accomplished Honors thesis, 'Institutional and Societal Treatment of Homosexuality in Northern Ireland during the Troubles,' demonstrates her considerable vision and skills as a researcher and writer, and I was privileged to have the opportunity to serve as her research supervisor and to learn with and from her."

Only 57 students nationwide received the fellowship this year. Phi Kappa Phi awarded $345,000 this year to students in their first year of graduate or professional study. The selection process is based on evidence of graduate potential, undergraduate academic achievement, service and leadership experience, letters of recommendation, a personal statement of educational perspective and career goals and acceptance in an approved graduate or professional program.

Phi Kappa Phi was founded in 1897 and is the oldest and most selective collegiate honor society for all academic disciplines. The national honor society inducts approximately 32,000 students, faculty, professional staff and alumni each year.

There are Phi Kappa Phi chapters on more than 300 college and university campuses in the United States and the Philippines. Students in the top 10 percent of seniors and graduate students and 7.5 percent of juniors are invited to become members each year. Faculty, professional staff and alumni with scholarly distinction also qualify for membership.

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