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Auburn University graduate Ellen Rankins was recently awarded a Phi Kappa Phi National Fellowship, which will be applied toward her first year of graduate study in Animal Sciences at the University of Florida. A native of Cusseta, Rankins is a spring 2016 Honors College graduate with a degree in animal sciences (equine science) through the College of Agriculture. This is the fourth year in a row that an Auburn University graduate has been awarded this fellowship.

While at Auburn University, Rankins held a leadership role in a variety of clubs including: president of the Block and Bridle Club where she concurrently served as chair of the Animal Handling Clinics, associate editor of Auburn University Journal of Undergraduate Studies, peer instructor for Honors Freshman Exploration, secretary of AG Ambassadors and, for the past four years, she served as a volunteer at Storybook Farms where she taught lessons, exercised and cared for the horses, developed lesson plans and trained fellow volunteers. Rankins also received numerous awards including the 2016 Comer Medal and the 2016 Claude Hardee Memorial Award for the College of Agriculture, third place in the 2016 American Society of Animal Science Undergraduate Paper category and first place in the Auburn Connects Common Book Writing Contest. In the summer of 2015, Rankins travelled to Singapore where she spent the summer as a therapeutic riding volunteer with Equal-Ark, a not-for-profit organization which provides social and emotional equine based learning therapies for at-risk youth.

Rankins wrote her honors thesis under the direction of Wendi Weimar, professor and director of the Sport Biomechanics Lab in the School of Kinesiology, about the influence of a rider with a disability on the kinematic variables of the horse’s walk. Rankins also collected and analyzed data for various projects conducted in the Sport Biomechanics Lab.

“Ellen’s selection for this award is a testament to her personal drive for academic excellence and desire to serve others. Her work embodies both the Auburn Creed and the Phi Kappa Phi motto,” noted Frank Oprandy, president of the Auburn Chapter of Phi Kappa Phi. “I am grateful for her faculty members for their recognition of her talents and their nurturing of her desire to succeed in significant ways.”

Each year, the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi awards fifty-one fellowships of $5,000 each to members entering the first year of graduate or professional study. Each active Phi Kappa Phi chapter may select one candidate from among its local applicants to compete for the society-wide awards.