Meet the Mellon Scholars

Mellon class of 2018 in front of Depree

Class of 2017

Cullen Smith

Cullen SmithI came to Hope College from Milford, Michigan. In the Mellon program I have been able to hone my skills, and I hope to create a future career around these skills. This came to fruition in two projects with Dr. Marc Baer, where I worked on a YouTube series profiling a Special Forces veteran of the Vietnam War, as well as a website and paper on British Military Intelligence during the Troubles in Northern Ireland from 1969–1998. These led to my two proudest moments as a student, when I won the Emily R. Brubaker Award in the English Department alongside the Junior Award from the Mellon Scholars. I have found that through research, I am able to step outside my own existence and into someone else’s.

Duffy Lampen

Duffy LampenI will be a fourth year at Hope College this fall. I am pursuing majors in French language/culture and English literature. I have growing interests in Mimetic Theory and French graphic novels. Personal interests include hiking, coffee, Scrabble and supporting my favorite college football teams.

Elizabeth Ensink

Elizabeth EnsinkI am from Hudsonville, Michigan, and am pursuing a double major in creative writing and biology. I’m passionate about communicating science to the general public and love finding ways that storytelling and poetic techniques can inform good science writing and vice versa. This summer I’m working on a series of lyric essays blurring scientific and creative writing at the Pierce Cedar Creek Institute. Last summer I researched the debate over inoculation surrounding the Boston smallpox epidemic of 1721 under the mentorship of Dr. Jonathan Hagood. This project resulted in a presentation at NCUR and Posters on the Hill.

Ellee Banaszak

Ellee BanaszakI am from Grand Rapids, Michigan, and am a biology major, with minors in studio art and art history. I am a member of the Microbiology Prep Team, Worship Team Tech Crew, and Hope College Orchestra. Research for me means the opportunity to explore a topic I’m passionate about and devising interesting ways to present the new knowledge I create. It’s also a way for me to combine my scientific and artistic sides. Mellon experiences have given me an advantage in learning high-level research methods as an undergraduate and have also allowed me to form close relationships with professors in the arts and humanities. In the future, I hope to be working in art restoration and conservation, either having earned my Ph.D. or on my way there.

Hayley Schultz

Hayley SchultzI am from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, but have come to love the beautiful beaches surrounding Lake Michigan. I am passionate about pursuing long-term solutions to peace and have self-designed a major in Peace and Conflict Transformation. On campus I am involved with the human rights group, Hope United for Justice, and have served as the president. My past projects have included an interactive timeline of the activist and Hope alumni, A.J. Muste, and a collaborative project on local NGOs in the Holland area, assessing what civil society organizations are doing to ensure youth are engaged in society.

Jennifer Fuller

Jennifer FullerI’m from Beverly Hills, Michigan, and one of the defining things about me is my passion for art and nature; my majors are biology and geology, with an art minor. I belong to the BBB Biology honors society, Biology Club and the Geology Club. I also play Ultimate Frisbee with the Hope College women’s club. With Hope’s Geological and Environmental Sciences department, my project in 2015 focused on sustainable agriculture and the use of Biochar as a possible environmentally friendly soil amendment. We presented our research at the GSA conference in Baltimore. Two of my most enriching Mellon experiences have been creating illustrations for the Biology intro lab manual, and creating an anatomical animation for Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy. They have both furthered my skills in Photoshop and digital illustration, and allowed me to reach out and educate others with my artwork. In 10 years, I see myself working in the environmental field as a research scientist, working as a scientific illustrator or (best case scenario) both.

Jessica Cronau

Jessica CronauI am from Dublin, Ohio (yes, I am a Buckeye fan!). For me, the arts and humanities allow for discovery, creativity, thoughtful commentaries on society and culture, and contemplation on the deepest meanings of life. I have had the opportunity to present two of my bigger research projects at the Celebration of Undergraduate Research, as well as the privilege to work with multiple faculty members in developing projects on topics of justice and Luther’s Two Kingdoms. I hope to go on to seminary after Hope and continue to see how God leads my steps afterward.

Jon Tilden

Jon TildenI’m a history major from Westmont, Illinois. I’m involved with the Phi Alpha Theta historical honors society, Greek Life and The Pull (ooh rah, Odd Year). I’ve worked as a student researcher and was fortunate to spend 10 days at the Library of Congress last summer. I love traveling and just returned from South Africa in June. History has always interested me and I’m fascinated by how past events shape our modern world. I’ve done projects via Mellon on Michigan’s history. I’m grateful to Hope faculty members who have mentored me through a variety of Mellon projects, especially Dr. Jeanne Petit and Dr. Fred Johnson.

Josh Briggs

Josh BriggsI am from Holland, Michigan, and am a biology major, with classics and chemistry minors. At Hope, I am involved in Student Congress, Student Ambassadors, Residential Life, the Mellon Scholars and the Baker Scholars. I enjoy the sincerity and genuine curiosity of the researchers I have been able to work with. In the Mellon Scholars program, I have found my most rewarding experiences to be the IDS Mellon Scholars Seminar, an independent research project about flood mythology with Dr. Barry Bandstra (religion department), and an independent research project about exile in Dante’s Inferno with Dr. Ernest Cole (English department).

Matthew Meyerhuber

Matthew MeyerhuberI am from Frankenmuth, Michigan. I am a double major in history and German, and am involved with the pre-law student club, Student Congress, Mortar Board, Wind Ensemble, and am the current president of Phi Alpha Theta. I value the way that an education in the humanities makes us more curious and creative, and how it makes us better communicators. For my first Mellon solo project, I worked with Dr. Tseng on a project about the Christian churches in Nazi Germany. I love research because it gets me out of the library and into the field (even if that field is another library). I hope to practice law and use my German however I can.

Miriam Roth

Miriam RothI am a French and history secondary education double major from Traverse City, Michigan. I am deeply passionate about both history and French as academic disciplines, but find the most fulfillment in inviting students to engage with these subjects. Conducting research excites me because it pushes me to think critically about all of my passions, separately and collectively. As a Mellon scholar, my favorite projects have included a website on the 1918 United War Work Campaign and a case study on student responses to document-based learning in a high school history classroom, a project which I will present at the annual conference of the National Council for the Social Studies in Washington, D.C. In the future, I hope to still be growing as both an educator and a learner, having obtained at least a master’s degree and become an impactful teacher of French and history.

Taylor Mills

Taylor MillsI am a composite major studying moral philosophy and psychology, with a Spanish minor having studied abroad in Granada, Spain. I am a member of Hope’s Chapel Choir, Concert Band and Luminescence. As a Phelps Scholar, I have a passion for multicultural education, encountering diversity. One of the most enriching aspects of Mellon is that the program dissolves the facade that undergraduates may only do so much within a certain parameter. With the help of Mellon, I am proud to say that I have started an annual undergraduate conference, the Undergraduate Network for Research in the Humanities (@un4rh), now in its second year. After three months we had 30 more students together sharing projects and tools, collaborating and pushing the boundaries of the undergraduate role in digital humanities work.

“Being a Mellon scholar has been nothing short of worth it. Having the ability to take a course in any discipline at Hope that utilizes the integration of technology and liberal arts, while at the same time fulfilling a Mellon experience has been a breath of fresh air.”

—Austin Garcia

Class of 2018

Alejandra Gomez

Alejandra GomezI was born in Mexico, raised in England, and am currently from Rochester, Michigan. What makes me passionate about the arts and humanities is how these perspectives have allowed me to see issues through a different lens. I have worked with Dr. Andre’s research team on graffiti and urban art in Mexico City. For this project I created a digital map of different locations of art in Mexico City as well as wrote a paper on the different types of graffiti and its evolution. This summer, I am working with Dr. Beard on public opinion and immigration.

Anna Jones

Anna JonesI came to Hope from Ann Arbor to double major in English: creative writing and theater. I am on the leadership team for Hope Catholics and enjoy attending Visiting Writers Series readings and events. I am very active in the theater department and have participated in many performances in a variety of ways, from acting to being a spotlight operator. I am passionate about stories, and writing and theater are two of my favorite ways to tell stories. In 1o years I hope to be acting, writing and directing in my own theater, or at least much closer to achieving that goal.

Carolyn Ellis

Carolyn EllisI am an English and studio art major from Coralville, Iowa. I am the editor for the Milestone yearbook and am involved in residential life, the Pull, the sailing club and gospel choir. I am passionate about the visual arts and bringing the old and new schools of art together, as well as fostering new forms of literature and developing my own collection of poetry. I have worked on projects such as Hendrik Willem Mesdag's “Return From Fishing” in the Hope College art collection, and a website, timeline and blog created on a West Michigan polar bear expedition. I believe that research enables me to explore my questions and passions, and brings people together when it is combined with arts, humanities and technology so it can reach a much wider and often overlooked but greatly needed audience. I aspire to have a career that combines both my love for art and literature, as either a photographer or writer for a magazine.

Ellen Messner

Ellen MessnerI am a music student from Marcellus, Michigan, and plan on earning my Bachelor of Arts in piano performance. This past summer I began a project on composer Amy Beach and the St. Cecilia Music Society in Grand Rapids with Dr. Randel. What I love most about this project, and research within the arts and humanities, is the opportunity to study music in a historical context and share my work with others. I expect to continue studying music after completing my undergraduate degree by pursuing a masters degree in musicology.

Grace Hulderman

Grace HuldermanI am an English creative writing major and studio art minor from Clarkston, Michigan. I am the co-editor of OPUS, an intern for the Jack Ridl Visiting Writers Series, and a writing assistant at the Klooster Center. I am also the recipient of the Erika Brubaker Award for Promising Achievements in the Study of Literature. I developed a Mellon research project on Cesare Ripa’s Iconologie as well as a project that explores the experiences of racial minorities in higher education. I plan to research folk-tales or develop a new project that would incorporate poetry and my interest in creative writing. I have enjoyed the freedom as a Mellon scholar to creatively approach projects and have felt a lot of support in my desire to fuse interests in art and poetry with academic research. After graduation, I hope to get an MFA in creative writing or pursue a career in publishing.

Jonathan Bading


Jonathan BadingBorn and raised in Chantilly, Virginia, I ventured west to Holland, Michigan, to study sacred music at Hope. I am currently pursuing a B.M. in organ performance with a concentration in music history and theory. I also study voice and choral conducting and sing in the Hope College Chapel Choir. I am a recipient of the Ruth Haidt Hughes Scholarship in Organ Performance and the Marie Blauwkamp Organ Scholarship. My interdisciplinary interests are the study of historical liturgical music, and I’ve spent time studying liturgical manuscripts in Vendôme, France. I find the intersection between music, art, liturgy and community enthralling and hope to continue researching “liturgical culture” in the future. I would like to serve as a parish music minister and continue on in academia, teaching in the fields of music history, liturgics and/or as a choral director. I currently serve as a choral scholar at Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I have also served as a substitute organist at various churches in the Holland and Grand Rapids area.

Josh Kam

Josh KamI am an itinerant collector of myths, books and shelves to furnish said books. Growing up on two continents, my academic (and culinary) passions are deeply influenced by the places I have lived and loved, be it Byzantine liturgy, Malay folktales, Chinese cuisine or the Michigan folk scene. A history and classics double-major, I hope to pursue graduate education studying the intersection of myth and history in Southeast Asia. I am interested in exploring the development of those myths between cultures, and how intertextuality intertwines the Muslim, Christian and Hindu-Buddhist threads of Indonesia and Malaysia. I have found in the Mellon Scholars a deep sense of community with its faculty and student fellows. This summer I began a research project on the Malay epic “Hikayat Hang Tuah” and its Islamic perspectives on peace-making, conducted at the graduate library of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Nia Stringfellow

Nia StrongfellowI come from the southwest suburbs of Chicago studying exercise science and dance performance. While I am also a science major, the dance program has taken over my life in the best ways. For the past two years, I’ve participated in Dance 41 with Steven Iannacone and Dance 42 with Angie Yetzke. My experiences with the dance department have shaped who I am as a person as well as steered me towards new directions in my academic journey. The Mellon Scholars Program has provided me with opportunities and resources to explore dance in marriage with African-American cultural values. I am especially interested in collaborating with other students who research dance and human experiences through technology. I hope to open my own studio center, where I can combine my passion of health and the arts for young developing dancers and artists. My goal is to target low-income areas and present young children with new opportunities to develop their full potential of strength and talent.

Rachel Kennedy

Rachel KennedyI am a Naperville, Illinois, native, going into my junior year as a theater and management double major. I am heavily involved in the theater department, participating in acting, lighting and house management, along with nearly any other job that needs to be done. I am also a member of the Kappa Beta Phi (Dorian) sisterhood and work for the Academic Success Center as an intern. During my sophomore year with the Mellon Scholars, I conducted research on the Knickerbocker Theater’s place in Holland, Michigan’s history and the dance department’s history in the context of the college’s RCA affiliation. I am passionate about theater and look to spread stories and unite people through the arts. Research that can reach out to others through theater is what drew me to the Mellon Scholars program since the program allows me to find new and exciting ways to gather and present dramaturgical information. Upon graduation, I hope to pursue acting, technical theater or arts administration.

Raven Bouvier

Raven BouvierI have been dancing for as long as I can remember. From taking traditional classes as a child to my current position as stage manager on the ballet club’s executive board, dance has always been a part of my life. This passion for dance has lead me to become a dance major with an emphasis in production. After the completion of my degree I hope to work as a stage manager. The Mellon Program’s unique approach to research allows me to continue to pursue research in my field while also encouraging me to present my findings in creative ways that allow me to cultivate the skills of my discipline. Through Mellon I am able to explore my passion for how dance interacts with individuals and communities while also learning the tools to share these findings through creative outlets such as podcasts, documentaries or live productions.

Class of 2019

Andrew Monroe

Andrew MonroeI am from Jackson, Michigan, and am a secondary education major in social studies. I have received the Sophomore Book Award, and I presented a paper called “Complexion: A Poet’s take on Black Experiences” at the 2016 College Language Association conference. The part about research that excites me is learning and becoming more enlightened on topics that hold interest for me, which expand my worldview and understanding of differing perspectives. In 10 years I see myself teaching and coaching in an inner city school system, where I believe I can make a large impact.

Annika Gidley

Annika GidleyI am from Farmington Hills, Michigan, majoring in English with a creative writing emphasis and minoring in Spanish. I participate in Nykerk and this year I am on the student committee for The Big Read. While I enjoy all facets of the humanities, my two passions are reading and writing; I love studying literature and learning how to craft my own stories. The study of language fascinates me and that is where I hope to focus my research in the coming years; I love learning how language has evolved. In 10 years I see myself (hopefully) supporting myself as a writer or as part of a university faculty sharing my passion for literature and language with others.

Irene Gerrish

Irene GerrishI’m an economics and political science student, and grew up in the small town of Los Alamos, New Mexico. I am vice president of Hope for Democrats, an avid member of the Hope College Orchestra and chamber program, and a research assistant at the library. I am largely interested in historical and modern politics, as well as music. Research is intriguing for many reasons, but I enjoy it largely for its educative purposes and the feeling I get of doing something important. In 10 years I hope to be pursuing political journalism or (this is probably just wishful thinking) beginning a career in legislative policymaking. Sounds riveting, right?

Kaitlyn Rustemeyer

Kaitlyn RustemeyerI am an English literature major from Naperville, Illinois. My interests in research bring me to think deeply on the dramatic influence that the written word has on society. I love exploring how every writer tries to decode humanity, society and every aspect of our world. In particular, I am passionate about the potential to visit historic places as a way to fully extend the possibilities of research. In the future, I hope to be doing mission work in Western Europe, possibly having completed a Ph.D. in Divinity.

Katrin Kelley

Katrin KelleyI am pursuing a double major in English and history, with a minor in political science. Having been born in India and raised in both Rome and in an American/German household, I have always been intrigued by the blending of cultures in all areas of the arts and humanities. As a Mellon Scholar, I am looking forward to researching European influences on American literature and deepening my love for 20th century world history. In the future, I hope to make an impact on young minds by teaching English and history at high school level, both in the United States and abroad.

Kelly Arnold

Kelly ArnoldI am from Ann Arbor, Michigan. My research interests are in Ancient Rome, linguistics, social trends and media engagement. I find research to be an opportunity to dig deeper into why people do what they do. This summer, I had an internship with the University of Michigan’s social media office. Active in Dance Marathon Dream Team, Kappa Beta Phi and WTHS 89.9, I hope to have a career in public relations and marketing.

Kellyanne Fitzgerald

Kellyanne FitzgeraldI am a sophomore from Burlington, Wisconsin. I am double majoring in French and English with a focus in creative writing. I am passionate about language and linguistics, and I am hoping to use my time as a Mellon Scholar to explore the connections between language and literature.

Kirstin Anderson

Kirsten AndersonI am from Charlotte, Michigan, and am a business management and political science double major. I am interested in literature, the visual arts, history and social science. Research, for me, is exciting because it gives the ability to explore a field of undiscovered knowledge. I hope to have a job where I can utilize my talents and passions, ideally for an organization that advances a mission that I believe in.

Nina Kay

Nina KayI’m from the Chicago suburbs and am majoring in women and gender studies with a minor in art history. I’m the current president of Hope’s Women’s Issues Organization for the 2016–2017 school year. During my freshmen year at Hope I was honored to have been awarded the Stephenson first year writing prize for an essay I wrote on the importance of modern day Black Feminism. What excites me most about research is taking an idea or interest you have and dedicating a semester, or even a year, to exploring that topic. It’s always rewarding when you have the time and ability to become an expert in something. After I graduate I would like to write books and produce TV shows for the middle reader-age kids that focus on teaching the principles of equality along with global history.

Olivia Lehnertz

Olivia LehnertzI am from Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, with a composite major in musical theater. I can be found acting in many of Hope’s MainStage and student productions in the DeWitt Theatre. I wrote my own one-man show last semester, working with guest artist and Off-Broadway performer Richard Hoehler, and continue to write prose. New to the Mellon Scholars program, I am excited to use my talents in the arts to create and write research-based theatrical pieces about relevant social and political topics encompassing the world today.

Rachel Brumagin

Rachel BrumaginI am a double major in economics and business management with a French minor. My hometown is Bay Village, Ohio, just outside of Cleveland. I am active in the business club, choir and Kappa Beta Phi Sorority. I love the way that language connects different people and cultures. It allows relationships to span across countries, ideas and technology to be shared, and cultures to be enhanced around the globe. Research is fascinating to me because it allows us to see exactly where something has come from. It lets us go back and see into the lives of people who lived hundreds of years ago, so that we can learn about their cultures while adding to our own. In 10 years I would like to be in a management position for a company that I enjoy working for, one that challenges me to work hard and evolve along with the changing times.

Shannon Rogers

Shannon RogersI am from Wheaton, Illinois, and I currently write for an online news media platform known as The Odyssey. I have not yet experienced Mellon mentoring, but when I think of research, I think of honesty. Research is exciting due to its mere nature. There may not always be an immediate answer, but the process reveals truths about me, the researcher. As Martin Luther King Jr. once articulated, “We are not makers of history. We are made by history.” God has blessed me to be a part of this program, so I look forward to all He has in store for me in conducting research.