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Kishwaukee College alumna named NIU Honors Fellow

Kishwaukee College alumna Jennifer Jane (formerly Grafton) has been selected as one of 12 students to serve as a University Honors Fellow for the upcoming academic year at Northern Illinois University.

Jane graduated from Kish College in May 2013 and transferred to NIU in Fall 2013. The Lee resident has future plans to attend law school.

As an NIU University Fellow recipient, Jane will receive a $5,000 tuition waiver and a unique opportunity to develop her leadership skills. Jane’s main responsibilities as an Honors Fellow will be to act as one of two student coordinators for the Peer Mentor Program, which involves leading 36 mentors who will work with approximately 150 new honors students through their first year at NIU.

In addition, her plans, articulated to the Fellows Application Committee, include working with the university’s office that serves nontraditional students and veterans to encourage participation in the NIU Honors Program and to host a Peer Mentoring Summit in Spring 2015.

This is not Jane’s first recognition as an NIU student. In April 2014, she received the Eli Whitney Award of Excellence at the University as an outstanding non-traditional student. Whitney Awards are selected from independent nominations of students who demonstrate positive characteristics; Jane was nominated for her leadership qualities, trustworthiness, mentoring, and her ability to overcome adversity while continuing her education.

While at KC, Jane had the distinction of being the first graduate of the college’s new Honors Program by completing 12-credit hours of honors’ coursework in Spring 2013, the inaugural semester of the program. She credits the Honors Program with preparing her for the rigors of being an Honors student at NIU.

“The Honors Program at Kish really challenged me to push myself,” she said in a news release. “The Ethics class with Dr. Thomas prepared me to think critically and defend my positions with oral arguments.”

Anthony Thomas, who teaches philosophy at KC, is the driving force behind initiating the Honors Program at the college. Currently, there are 50 students participating in the Honors Program on campus. Kishwaukee College is one of only two community college programs in the state (the other being Highland College) that have the distinction of being cited as a Partner Honors Program with NIU. Thomas has developed a program that seamlessly matches and prepares KC students to move into the NIU Honors Program or be well prepared for Honors Programs at other four-year institutions.

Jane has four children, ranging from age 24 to 6, and made a decision to return to school several years ago.

“I decide to redefine who I am. Life changes and I needed a new direction,” she said in the release.

Today, she is concurrently working toward a B.A. in psychology and B.S. in family and individual development at NIU. Her long-term goal is to become a lawyer working in the nonprofit sector for families dealing with domestic violence.

For more information on the Honors Program at KC, contact Tony Thomas at 815-825-2086, ext. 4260, or

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