UM Phi Kappa Phi National Fellowship Winner Strives to Better Healthcare for Latinx Populations in U.S.

By Anna Grace Usery
Editor-in-Chief
anna.grace.usery@hottytoddy.com

One recent UM graduate is adding a prestigious Phi Kappa Phi Fellowship to her list of accolades. Ellie Smith, a biochemistry major with a double minor in Spanish and biology, plans to use the scholarship to offset the costs of her first year in medical school.

Ellie Smith recently received a national PKP Fellowship. She is the sole recipient from the University of Mississippi. Photo provided.

The award is given by the prestigious Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi, which “recognizes and encourages superior scholarship without restriction as to area of study and to promotes the unity and democracy of education,” according to its website. Currently, the society awards 50 Fellowships of $8,500 each, six at $20,000 each, and two at $35,000 each to members entering the first year of graduate or professional study.

Smith is the recipient of one of the 50, $8,500 awards. Although she said she plans to defer the scholarship for a year to pursue a gap year in South America, she intends to apply the scholarship to Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia.

“I aspire to serve Latinx populations in the urban United States and help diminish inequities in healthcare access,” she said.

Each university in the U.S. with a Phi Kappa Phi chapter has the opportunity to submit one student to be considered at the national level for a fellowship. Smith was required to submit a writing sample, obtain letters of recommendation, and write a personal essay.

“Despite being in the midst of a busy academic and extracurricular week, I took the time to apply and I was so thrilled when I found out I was selected as the University’s candidate,” she said. “There are clearly so many amazing students at our school, so I was greatly honored to be chosen. Further, to be chosen out of the national candidates as one of the students receiving a fellowship, I was incredibly proud and so glad to represent the University of Mississippi.”

Phi Kappa Phi Ole Miss board member Deborah Wenger said this is the fifth year the University has produced a national winner.

“Elaine’s award is an incredible honor for her and for Ole Miss. Winners are judged, not only on their academic achievement but also on their service and leadership,” she said. “I think that’s why Ole Miss has had national winners for the past five years – our university offers many opportunities for our students to learn important life skills beyond the classroom.”

Ole Miss’ 2018 PKP Fellowship Award winner was Kathryn Prendergast. 

Smith’s academic achievements are as follows:

Taylor Medalist
4.0 cumulative GPA – Summa Cum Laude, Chancellor’s Honor Roll, Ventress Scholar
Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College Class Marshal
Outstanding Chemistry Graduate
2017-2018 Biochemistry Student of the Year
Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society
Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society
Mortar Board


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