Congratulations to our 2021 Student Award Recipients!

Robert T. Anderson Award: Madelyn Webb

Madelyn Webb: The skills I’ve developed here in the Religious Studies Department–to question the mundane and seemingly benign, to seek out the meaningful, to open myself up to the uncomfortable–these skills will stick with me for the rest of my life. There’s always more than one solution, more than one perspective, more than one voice which deserves to be heard. Regardless of what the future decides to be, I now have the tools to find my answer because of my experience in the Religious Studies Department.

Engaged Scholar Award: Yael Eichhorn

Yael Eichhorn: In Religious Studies, I have really enjoyed the variety of classes that are available, and the fact that there are so many options. I have been able to choose classes based on my interests and the major itself has been very flexible. Another great aspect of Religious Studies is the faculty and staff, who are always accessible and there to help. The smaller class sizes kept me engaged and it was overall just a very positive and open learning environment. After graduation I plan to go into Jewish nonprofit work, and to continue teaching.

Nick Rashford and Jake Folio Award: Erica Lavista

Erica Lavista: I would not trade my Religious Studies degree for anything in the world; it is a discipline that has kept me captivated with every step I took toward earning my degree. This is much more than an undergraduate major: Religious Studies cultivates and strengthens each of its students’ critical thinking skills by using an interdisciplinary approach. Each faculty and staff member in the Religious Studies Department genuinely cares about providing their students with a meaningful education. I will always carry with me everything that the Religious Studies Department has taught me. After graduation, I have been given the opportunity to pursue an M.A. at the University of Chicago this fall, which would not have been possible without the help of this department. Thank you to everyone in the Religious Studies Department who inspired me and believed in me—I could not have done it without all of your help.

Bob Pettapiece Scholarship: Alana Davis

Alana Davis: I think my favorite thing about Religious Studies is seeing how different people interact with and explain the world around us. Religion offers a special lens and allows us to ask unique and difficult questions about ourselves and our purpose, as well as driving us to think about grand scale questions both metaphysical and social. After graduation I plan on taking a small break but would like to study philosophy and religion—I’m especially interested in how they shift and grow in post-modernity.

Bob Pettapiece Scholarship: Charron Mcrae

Charron Mcrae: My interest in pursuing a degree in religious studies began after taking religions courses at Lansing Community College with Prof. Sjoquist and developed even further when I transferred to MSU and had access to a plethora of expert professors and unique learning opportunities. I enjoy the study of religion because it helps me consider the motivations for people’s actions, helps me be empathetic, and helps me celebrate society’s differences, not only in terms of belief and religious practice, but also in a broader context. I hope the understanding and empathy I have gained through the study of religion is something I am able to pass on, not only in the sense of a career, but in all of those who I meaningfully interact with along the way.  I am interested in pursuing a career in the non-profit sector after graduation.  I would ideally like to work with an organization that is religiously pluralistic and provides education about religious inclusivity.  

Julia Johnson Award in Religion and Ecology: Anneli Schlacht

Anneli Schlacht: Religious studies has given me an entirely new perspective on how religion exists and functions both throughout history and in modernity. Religion permeates nearly every aspect of life, making it extremely applicable to a wide variety of fields of study. Most specifically in my case, it provides an excellent basis for my goal to work in an environmental nonprofit, especially with the unique nonprofit leadership concentration offered here at MSU.