Abigail Hancox

Abigail Hancox, of Albion, a senior political science major with a minor in homeland security in the Cook Honors College at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, has been selected for a competitive James A. Finnegan Foundation Fellowship.

The Finnegan Foundation Fellowship provides the opportunity for selected students to be placed in summer internships in executive branch positions in Harrisburg for eight to 10 weeks and be part of a series of meetings with key public officials. Fellowship recipients receive a cash award at the conclusion of the internship and also earn weekly salaries paid by state agencies during their state government employment.

The internships are named for the late James A. Finnegan and are established in his honor and to honor other men and women who have made important contributions to the art of government in Pennsylvania.

A panel of distinguished judges, under supervision of the Board of the Finnegan Foundation, select the Foundation recipients based on a submitted essay. The judges consider a student’s background, civic endeavors and career interests, and the designated written essay on a political science theme.

The James A. Finnegan Foundation, based in Harrisburg, has sponsored an annual essay competition for Pennsylvania college students for more than six decades. 

Alumni of the Finnegan Foundation program include persons elected or appointed to local and state positions in Pennsylvania, a member of the Delaware Supreme Court, professors, business entrepreneurs, and many attorneys.

“Abigail is a perfect selection for the Finnegan Foundation Fellowship—she is both an outstanding scholar and extraordinary leader,” IUP Vice President for Student Affairs Tom Segar said.

“Her commitment to students and this university in her role as president of the Student Government Association and to supporting the important role of public higher education as a member of the Board of Governors has set new standards for excellence for our students.

“I’m very proud of her accomplishments and very glad that she is continuing her education at IUP in not just one, but two graduate programs. She has an incredibly bright future, and as an advisor to IUP’s Student Government Association who has witnessed the impact of her leadership, I couldn’t be more proud of her accomplishments, including her selection for this prestigious Fellowship,” he said.

“I am incredibly grateful and excited for this opportunity to intern at a Pennsylvania state government agency,” Hancox said. “I could not have had this opportunity without the guidance and support of my mentors here at IUP, including Dr. Segar and Sam Muir, IUP director of Campaign Planning and Outreach in the Division of University Advancement, who encouraged me to apply for the fellowship.”

Hancox is a student governor on the Pennsylvania State System Board of Governors, appointed to the board in June 2022. She is president of IUP’s Student Government Association and vice chair and conference chair of the PaSSHE Board of Student Government Presidents and organized the organization’s state-wide conference held at IUP in February. She is a senator in the IUP University Senate.

As a member of the Cook Honors College, she was an invited presenter for the National Collegiate Honors Council Association conference. She is a volunteer group leader for the Indiana Grace Church After School program.

She is a dean’s list student and provost scholar and will graduate in May with a perfect 4.0 grade point average. She has been admitted to both the IUP Student Affairs in Higher Education master’s degree program and the IUP Public Affairs master’s degree program, where she will concentrate in local government management.

She is the daughter of Melissa Gibson and Mike Hancox of Albion and is a 2021 graduate of Northwestern High School.

More information about the Finnegan Foundation is available on the Finnegan Fellowship Foundation website.