Himani Patel '18

Photo of Himani Patel ‘18


  • Senior chemistry major from Eldoret, Kenya

  • Named 2017 Student Lincoln Laureate, the State of Illinois’ highest student honor

  • President’s List

  • 2016-2017 Chapter President for Phi Eta Sigma National Honor Society

  • Member of Sigma Zeta National Math and Science Honor Society and Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity

  • Engaging Issues and Diversity Coordinator for Campus Activities Board in 2015-2016

  • Resident Assistant

  • Lab Assistant and Student Success Center Tutor

  • University 101 Peer Mentor

  • Student Ambassador and NSO Group Leader

  • Recipient of Phi Eta Sigma Scholarship

by Stephanie (Coartney) Dulaney '10

It was through a friend of a friend that Himani Patel '18 first heard of McKendree all the way from her distant hometown of Eldoret, Kenya. Four years later, her talents, perseverance, and decision to make McKendree her second home led her to receive the State of Illinois’ highest student honor, the Lincoln Laureate.

“At the time I was applying for colleges, an international student from Kenya was attending McKendree, and a common friend told me about the university,” Himani said.

Quotation Graphic"I checked the website and since the application was free and online, I filled it out. A few weeks later, I got my acceptance, along with an academic scholarship letter. McKendree is my home away from home."

During her first semester, Himani said her primary focus was soaking in all the cultural differences of life in the United States. However, she soon found her place in a campus community that encouraged her to explore new ideas, step outside her comfort zone, and express herself in innovative ways. As a chemistry major, she found ample opportunities to grow her love for science through honor societies, one-on-one guidance from her professors, and her work as a lab assistant and tutor. What she didn’t expect to find, though, was the multitude of other organizations and perspectives on campus that also inspired her to action.

“I was excited to learn about science, but here I realized I’m also very interested in social justice issues,” Himani said.

Quotation Graphic"Being at a liberal arts institution, I have become a well-rounded person. My passion for science has increased as well as my drive to assist others in comprehending what I have learned."

Photo of Himani PatelHimani quickly stepped into leadership roles coordinating diversity events through the Campus Activities Board and mentoring new students during University 101 classes and New Student Orientation. “My most enjoyable experience has been tutoring chemistry to first-year students using quirky analogies for chemical concepts,” she said.

This past fall, Himani’s impressive academic record and vibrant contributions to student life at McKendree led to her selection as one of only 56 students in Illinois to be named a 2017 Student Lincoln Laureate. In a ceremony at the Old State Capitol in Springfield, Ill., Governor Bruce Rauner presented Himani with the Abraham Lincoln Civic Engagement Award and a $1000 check for her dedication to academics, leadership, and service to others. She may be graduating this year, but Himani knows she’ll continue growing that spirit of curiosity and persistence that she learned at McKendree. With plans to continue her education and earn her doctorate, Himani hopes to land her dream career as a research scientist for the National Institute of Health.

Learn more about McKendree University and our chemistry degree program.


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