/ English Department


We’re honored to offer awards and prizes to our students who show exemplary skills in literature and creative writing.

The Academy of American Poets Prize

A national poetry award for college students, funded in part by the Department of English and in part by Hope College. This college-wide award is an open competition; submissions are welcome from any student registered full time at the college, in any major or discipline, on any topic and in any poetic form.

2016 Recipients: Elizabeth Ensink and Tommy D'Addario (Honorable Mention)

Birkhoff Essay Contest

The George Birkhoff English Prize is a cash award designed to promote study of English literature and language. The prize is awarded for an essay on a topic selected by the English department and submitted for this competition. The prize was established in 1888 by George Birkhoff, a benefactor of the college. His original intent had been to support and encourage the study of both English and Dutch literature, so two prizes were awarded for several years: one in the sophomore class in English literature and one in the freshman class in Dutch literature. In 1902, the prize became the dominion of the junior and senior classes. Later, in the 1940s, ’50s, and ’60s the topic was chosen by the faculty to relate to classroom work done in one of the literature classes open to junior and senior students. Today the prize may be won by any excellent paper on a literary subject. In 1914, the Birkhoff Prize in Dutch was discontinued.

2016 Recipient: Rebecca Fox

Erika Brubaker (Class of 1992) Senior Award for Proficiency in Literature

A cash award in memory of Erika Brubaker and presented to a senior English major who has shown exceptional proficiency in the study of literature.

2016 Recipients: Sadina Brott, Anna Goodling and Hannah Jacobsma

Erika Brubaker (Class of 1992) Awards for Promising Achievements in the Study of Literature

Up to 10 awards in memory of Erika Brubaker and in the form of bookstore certificates for declared English majors or minors who are at least one year from graduation and who have shown exceptional promise in the study of literature. A student will be eligible to receive this award only once.

2016 Recipients: Joseph Bustamante, Lindsay Hall, Grace Hulderman, Emily Martin, Katie McMorris and Cullen Smith

The Clarence DeGraaf English Award

An award to be presented to the senior whose interest and achievement in the field of English, as indicated by academic record, most merits recognition in the judgment of the English department faculty. The award began with 1988 Honors Convocation, and is named in honor of Clarence DeGraaf, long-time chair of the English department at Hope College. The award was established by his daughter and son-in-law Ruth DeGraaf and Lamont Dirkse and his son Daniel DeGraaf.

2016 Recipients: Rebecca Fox, Hope Hancock and Colton Ursiny

William B. Eerdmans' Prize

Begun in June 1951, the William B. Eerdmans's prize awards the student judged best in creative writing (poetry) and the student judged best in creative writing (prose) by an outside judge. Prizes were announced by William B. Eerdmans, Sr. at the spring English majors’ banquet; they are now announced at Honors Convocation. The Eerdmans company is under no obligation to publish.

(Poetry winner is listed first, prose winner second)

2016 Recipients: Joshua Kam and Katie McMorris

Stephen I. Hemenway Award For Promising Achievement in English Teaching

The award will benefit any level of teacher (someone planning to teach middle school, high school or higher education). The focus is on Creative Writing or Literature majors.

2016 (Inaugural) Recipients: Dylan Connor and Kaleigh Doan

The Sandrene Schutt Award

The Sandrene Schutt Award for Proficiency in the Study of English Literature was established in 1967 in honor of Sandrene Schutt, English teacher at Grand Haven High School for 37.5 years. A cash award will be presented to the senior who has shown this proficiency in English literature and expresses an intent to enter the teaching profession in this field.

2016 Recipients: Kyle Bernaciak and Abigail LaBarge

The Stephenson First-Year Writing Prize

This prize, awarded each semester to the author of the paper selected as the best submitted in the first-year writing course, is given to encourage young writers. The award is a gift certificate from the Hope-Geneva Bookstore.

2016 Recipient: Nina Kay

Theune Family Award

An annual award established by Peter ’65 and Judith Theune in 1992 in honor of their son Michael J. Theune ’92, to recognize one or more outstanding students, with preference given to students majoring in philosophy and/or English.

2016 Recipients: Samuel Lake and Abigail Klett

Jennifer Young Award in Creative Writing and Literature

This cash award, begun in 2008, and renamed for former faculty member Jennifer Young Tait in 2011, will be presented each year to the senior whose interest and achievement as a creative writer and student of literature most merit recognition in the judgment of the English department faculty.

2016 Recipients: Tommy D'Addario and Carly Schweppe