Alumna Receives $5,000 Phi Kappa Phi Fellowship


MACON – Mercer University alumna Sarah Wibell has received a $5,000 fellowship from The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi to pursue a Master of Philosophy in social anthropology at the University of Oxford.

Wibell, from Rutledge, earned her Bachelor of Arts summa cum laude from the College of Liberal Arts in 2014 with majors in communication and women's and gender studies. 

“I am extremely grateful and excited to receive a fellowship from Phi Kappa Phi. I am especially thankful for the recommendations written by Dr. Mary Ann Drake, Dr. Natalie Bourdon and Dr. Vasile Stanescu, and for Mercer to have selected me as its representative,” said Wibell.

She was one of only 51 Phi Kappa Phi members to receive a $5,000 award from the honor society this year. Each active chapter may nominate one candidate to compete for the fellowships, which support a student entering her or his first year of graduate or professional study.

“We are extremely proud that Sarah Wibell has been awarded the Phi Kappa Phi Fellowship,” said Dr. Bridget Trogden, president of Mercer's chapter of Phi Kappa Phi and associate professor of chemistry. “Phi Kappa Phi is a very prestigious honor society, inviting Mercer's top academically-achieving students into membership each year. That Sarah won this fellowship places her alongside some of the top scholars in the nation.”

While a student a Mercer, Wibell earned awards at Honors Convocation for her outstanding work in both the communications and women's and gender studies departments. She was a member of several honor societies, including Golden Key International, Iota Iota Iota and Phi Eta Sigma, in addition to Phi Kappa Phi. 

She worked with several tutoring programs in local schools, interned at Crisis Line and Safe House of Middle Georgia, and participated in a Mercer On Mission trip to South Africa. She was active in Alpha Gamma Delta Fraternity and Mercer Animal Rescue, serving as president of the latter organization for two years.

Following graduation, Wibell worked with the American-Thai Foundation's Teach Thailand Corps through Service First, a program based in Mercer's Institute of Life Purpose that offers graduates the opportunity to engage in meaningful service that allows them to travel and significantly help others before attending graduate school or entering their chosen profession.

“I spent ten months living in a culture very different from anything I had previously experienced, and I loved it,” she said. “Most days, after class ended, I would stay and play with and talk to the students while they waited for their bus or parents to pick them up. The afternoon was always the highlight of my day. I took full advantage of this opportunity to also travel throughout Thailand and to Vietnam, Cambodia and Malaysia.”

She plans to continue her studies in Oxford's Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, which is the oldest center in the United Kingdom specializing in postgraduate teaching and research within its discipline.

Founded in 1897 at the University of Maine, Phi Kappa Phi is the nation's oldest and most selective collegiate honor society for all academic disciplines. Its chapters are on more than 300 campuses in the U.S. and the Philippines. Each year, approximately 30,000 members are initiated. Since its founding, the honor society has initiated more than 1.25 million members into its ranks.

Kyle is senior director of media relations at Mercer. In addition to being the primary media contact for most academic and administrative units of the university, he serves as editor of the Mercerian alumni magazine and News@Mercer e-newsletters, and he coordinates hometown and university news releases.