2021 Fike Scholarship

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The McHenry County Historical Society has established an annual $1,000 college scholarship to honor its former administrator, Nancy Fike.

For more than 40 years, Fike demonstrated her love for McHenry County and its history. Her attention to education and historic accuracy can be observed in the programs, museum, research library, and buildings now owned and maintained by the Society.

The Nancy Fike Scholarship is presented each year to a graduating senior from a McHenry County high school who plans to study education, history or the social sciences.  The financial award will be given on behalf of the student to his or her chosen college or university.

Applicants must have a minimum 3.0 GPA, provide two letters of recommendation as specified in the application, show proof of community service and write a minimum 500 word essay pertaining to McHenry County. Essay topics will be announced each year by the Society. This year's topic, as the world copes with a new pandemic, focuses on constrasting one of two similarly challenging health crisises of the past – the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic or the polio virus attack that peaked in the early 1950s – with our fight against COVID 19.

All have left devastated families in their wake.

Submit your documents online, or download this PDF and mail your documents.

Potential resources:
• McHenry County Historical Society newspaper archive and research library (by appointment only).
• Health agencies: McHenry County Department of Health, Illinois Department of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institutes of Health, World Health Organization.

• newspapers.com

Click to view Slideshow: 

Checklist and Application

The application packet must be complete and arranged in the order listed below. All original transcripts, letters of recommendation, and other required documents must be received by MCHS by April 12 in a single package. The application package must be stapled or paper clipped in the top left hand corner. Incomplete or nonconforming applications will not be considered.

The Nancy Fike Scholarship is open to graduating seniors attending any McHenry County high school who have a minimum GPA of 3.0 and who plan on studying history, education or the social sciences. Children and grandchildren of MCHS Board members and staff are not eligible.


[ ] Scholarship application

[ ] Essay of at least 500 words – Topic for 2021:

At this time of a worldwide health crisis it might be instructive to look back and see how our county and state dealt with an earlier pandemic.

The flu outbreak during World War I killed an estimated 50 million people and infected 10 times as many. In the late 1940s, before vaccines were available, polio outbreaks in the U.S. increased in frequency and size. They disabled an average of more than 35,000 people each year. And, as we know all too well, the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has claimed nearly 1.5 million people worldwide.

Specifically, research either the polio epidemic of the 1940s and ’50s or the Spanish influenza epidemic of 1918-19. What caused the disease? Who were its primary victims? How did it affect our schools and communities? And, how was it eventually brought under control?

Compare the efforts to fight polio or Spanish flu to our current efforts to combat COVID-19. Remember to include McHenry County. Consider interviewing a grandparent or other relative concerning their experiences during the polio epidemic. Bring it on home!


[ ] Original high school transcript

[ ] Letters of recommendation (at least two, one from a faculty member or administrator at the applicant’s school, and another from a community representative)

[ ] Documentation of community service and involvement

[ ] List of extra-curricular activities, honors received and scholastic achievements



Applicants will be notified of the Society’s decision. The decision regarding the award is conditional until the applicant meets all the following requirements: The applicant must be accepted to a college or university by May 1, and notify MCHS where he or she will attend, as MCHS will pay the scholarship funds directly to the school on behalf of the scholarship winner. All applicants consent to the use of their name, image and story for MCHS press releases, presentations and other materials. All applicants further agree, should they be selected as the winner, to attend one MCHS board meeting for a presentation ceremony as well as to invite a MCHS representative for a presentation at their high school’s honors event. If the conditional scholarship winner does not fulfill the above requirements, MCHS reserves the right to award it to another worthy applicant.

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