Student Life

UK Grad Awarded 2017 Phi Kappa Phi National Fellowship

photo of Fiona Foster in cap and gown
Fiona Foster. Photo by William Bingham.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (July 13, 2017) Recent University of Kentucky graduate and member of Phi Kappa Phi (PKP), Fiona Foster, has received the 2017 Phi Kappa Phi National Fellowship. PKP is the nation's oldest and most selective all discipline honor society, having over 300 chapters across the nation and more overseas.

PKP currently presents 51 fellowships of $5,000 each to award winners entering the first year of graduate or professional study. Each active PKP chapter may select one candidate from among its local applicants to compete for the society-wide award.  

Foster graduated in May 2017 with a mathematics major and a computer science minor. A member of the Lewis Honors College, she was very active at UK helping found the UK Mountain Cats; working with UK Sound and Lights; serving as an undergraduate assistant in UK Calculus 1 Math Excel; serving as a site leader and participating in Alternative Service Breaks; and working as a computer programmer and rock wall attendant at the Johnson Center Outdoor Pursuits. A National Merit Finalist, Foster also received many awards and scholarships including the Carolyn S. Bunyan Award, the Sallie Pence Award, the UK Patterson Scholarship and the National Merit Scholarship.

Foster is passionate about Appalachian school systems in Eastern Kentucky and issues confronting the students. She worked with an Appalachian school during one of her Alternative Service Breaks trips. She enjoyed the experience and the people so much that it became the subject of her honors thesis and capstone. Foster’s thesis was the creation of a business plan for a nonprofit that would assist Appalachian high school girls in joining and being successful in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). For her honors capstone, she conducted a needs assessment for the STEM industry to understand the current strategies being used to support girls and women in STEM and to identify gaps in this support that she could fill through a nonprofit. She next conducted a needs assessment for the Appalachian region focusing on Appalachian girls and women to tailor her STEM support strategies to fit the specific needs of the area. The two research components culminated in a comprehensive business plan complete with marketing, financial and operational plans, which she presented at UK's Showcase of Undergraduate Scholars in the spring.

"I’m honored to be selected as a recipient of the Phi Kappa Phi Fellowship," Foster said. "This award will allow me to pursue a master’s degree in teaching from University of the Cumberlands in secondary mathematics. I’m excited for the support Phi Kappa Phi is providing me as I pursue my dream of teaching math in Eastern Kentucky.”

Foster feels strongly about working in the region and wants to be part of the solution in battling low graduation rates in the area.

PKP was founded in 1897 at the University of Maine. The UK chapter was established in 2009. Each fall, the chapter initiates eligible juniors, seniors, graduate students, faculty, staff, alumni and community leaders into its ranks. PKP recognizes students for their academic excellence and service to the community. For more information on Phi Kappa Phi, visit www.PhiKappaPhi.org

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