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Political Science Graduate Wins Prestigious Urann Fellowship
Nancy Fairbank Received the Phi Kappa Phi Award to Help Her Prepare for a Career in International Law
July 17, 2017
Nancy Fairbank BA'17 is the third UT Dallas student to win a Marcus L. Urann Fellowship of $15,000 from the Phi Kappa Phi honor society.
Nancy Fairbank, a May graduate in political science at The University of Texas at Dallas, has received another prestigious scholarship that will propel her toward a career in international law.
Fairbank, an alumna of the McDermott Scholars Program, is the third UT Dallas student — and the second in a row — to win the Marcus L. Urann Fellowship of $15,000 from the Phi Kappa Phi honor society.
She is one of six graduate students across the U.S. to receive the Urann Fellowship, given to Phi Kappa Phi members entering their first year of graduate or professional study.
Fairbank will eventually use her fellowship award toward tuition at Harvard Law School. Her goal is to become an attorney who helps protect children and youths through law and policy.
Before she attends law school, Fairbank will spend two years at graduate schools in Great Britain. Earlier this year, Fairbank learned she had received the prestigious Marshall Scholarship, becoming the first UT Dallas student in more than 10 years to win the award. She will study at the University of Birmingham and Oxford University.
“It feels really strange to have my next five years planned out. I was very surprised and excited to get the Urann Fellowship,” Fairbank said.
The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi awards 51 fellowships of $5,000 each and six at $15,000 each to members entering the first year of graduate or professional study.
“Nancy’s Urann award exemplifies how our students are partnering with Phi Kappa Phi as they go on to take their place on the national and international stage. I am so proud of Nancy and of the students and alums who make up our PKP chapter.”
Each Phi Kappa Phi chapter is allowed to nominate just one candidate a year, so competition within a university can be intense, said Dr. Douglas Dow, associate dean of the Hobson Wildenthal Honors College and clinical professor of political science.
“Nancy’s Urann award exemplifies how our students are partnering with Phi Kappa Phi as they go on to take their place on the national and international stage,” Dow said. “I am so proud of Nancy and of the students and alums who make up our PKP chapter.”
UT Dallas has received a PKP fellowship each of the six years the University has been a Phi Kappa Phi chapter member. Three of the six have received the Urann Fellowship.
Last year, Blake Eaton, a political science graduate, won the Urann Fellowship of $15,000; Dina Shahrokhi, a political science graduate, was the first UT Dallas student to win the Urann Fellowship in 2013. Three other students won $5,000 fellowships: Raheel Ata, a biochemistry graduate, in 2015; Kayla Klein, a neuroscience and biology graduate, in 2014; and Emily Lichtenheld, an economics and international political economy graduate, in 2012.
Ata, Klein, Shahrokhi and Lichtenheld are also alumni of the McDermott Scholars Program.
Fairbank’s participation in high school debate first sparked her interest in pursuing a law career.
“There was nothing in the world like it for me. I loved the research, and we had to argue both sides of an issue. I was just fascinated with it,” Fairbank said.
Her studies in political science at UT Dallas and her experience working on a political campaign for a Richardson City Council candidate — running social media and going door-to-door — only solidified her decision.
UT Dallas Phi Kappa Phi Fellows
2017: Nancy Fairbank – Urann, Harvard Law School
2016: Blake Eaton – Urann, University of Chicago Law School
2015: Raheel Ata – Stanford University Medical School
2014: Kayla Klein – University of Michigan Medical School
2013: Dina Shahrokhi – Urann, Kennedy School of Government at Harvard
2012: Emily Lichtenheld – Harvard Law School
Fairbank wants to practice corporate and international law, while doing pro bono work to fight teenage homelessness. She is author of the 2016 book, Throwaway Youth: Stories of Springfield’s Homeless Teens, published by Missouri State University’s Moon City Press. She wrote the book after learning about a shelter for homeless youths in her hometown of Springfield, Missouri.
“Just getting to know them and hearing their stories was amazing. The issue of teenage homelessness will be part of the rest of my life. It’s the kind of issue that once you know about it, you can’t get it out of your mind. I’ve had many privileges at UT Dallas, and I want to be able to give back,” Fairbank said.
Fairbank, who served as Student Government vice president in 2014-15, also is open to considering a career in politics.
“I think it’s important for everyone to be involved in politics. I still think it can be a force for positive change,” she said.
Fairbank spent a semester working for the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., through the Bill Archer Fellowship Program for Undergraduates. She was a 2016 Truman Scholar finalist and this spring received the University’s Outstanding Undergraduate Student Award.
Fairbank also was part of a UT Dallas Moot Court duo that placed in the top 16 at 2017 AMCA Nationals, and she founded the UT Dallas chapter of No Labels, an organization dedicated to bipartisanship and civil political discourse.
“There is nowhere else in the world like UT Dallas. The academic exploration and the many opportunities I’ve had are resources I wouldn’t have gotten anywhere else. I will always be proud to be a Comet,” Fairbank said.
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