Meredith Arwady of Chicago, Ill., a West Michigan native who has received national acclaim as an opera singer, has been named the inaugural recipient of the new Young Alumni Award at Hope College.

Arwady, a 2000 Hope graduate, is a contralto and member of the Ryan Opera Center of the Lyric Opera of Chicago, and in 2004 was one of only three winners in the New York Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.

She received her Young Alumni Award during a reception held on campus on Sunday, May 20, while family and friends were gathered in town in conjunction with a family wedding. Presented by the college's Alumni Association, the new annual award has been established to honor the talents and contributions that young alumni have made to their professions, their communities and to the college.

Arwady was raised in North Muskegon and Kalamazoo. She graduated from Kalamazoo Loy Norrix High School and the Kalamazoo Area Mathematics and Science Center in 1996.

She graduated from Hope with majors in music and English, and was active in performing through the department of music, including as a member of the Chapel Choir and departmental recitals and concerts, as well as with the department of theatre in musical theatre productions. Her additional activities ranged from varsity soccer, swimming and diving, and track; to intramurals; to volunteering with the Children's After School Achievement (CASA) program; to serving as a resident assistant; to serving as a class representative on Student Congress. She traveled abroad every summer - to Europe with the Chapel Choir, and to Africa, India and Austria through Hope academic programs.

From Hope, she won admission to the master's program in opera at the prestigious Curtis Institute in Philadelphia, Pa., to which the acceptance rate is about one in 100.

Among other honors in addition to her National Council Auditions award, Arwady won the 2002 Astral Artistic Services National Auditions, the 2002 and 2004 Licia Albanese competitions, the inaugural Marian Anderson Prize for Emerging Classical Artists in 2002 and the 2005 George London Foundation/Kirsten Flagstad Award, and received a 2002 Sara Tucker Grant and a 2007 Richard Tucker Career Grant. She has performed nationwide, including with New Orleans Opera, San Francisco Opera, the Opera Company of Philadelphia, the New York Philharmonic, the Toronto Symphony, the Baltimore Symphony and the Pittsburgh Symphony, and in 2006 returned to Hope to present a recital. She has been with the Lyric Opera of Chicago since 2005.

Criteria for the Young Alumni Award include having been a member of the college's Alumni Association for 15 or fewer years; notable prominence through professional endeavor, research, volunteerism, and/or involvement with the local or global community or the college; and demonstrating significant initiative by starting innovative service projects, research, businesses or other original enterprises.

The Young Alumni Awards complement the Distinguished Alumni Awards that the association has presented since the 1960s in recognition of accomplishment and service across a number of decades or even a complete career.