/ Mellon Initiatives

Meet the Mellon Scholars

2019 Mellon Scholars at CURCA

“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, Mellon Class of 2016

Class of 2021

Alyssa Iehl
alyssa iehlI am from Wayland, Michigan. I'm studying psychology and philosophy. I'm excited to be in the Mellon Scholars Program because it will provide me with the opportunity to learn more about technology and conducting research. While I enjoy learning from various subjects, the humanities and social sciences are my main interests. I like philosophy because it allows me to think deeply about one's mind and the world while also improving reasoning skills. All areas of psychology fascinate me, but after Hope I plan to attend graduate school to specialize my interests. I haven't fully decided what specialty to pursue, but it will probably be either clinical or forensic psychology.
Jamie Breyfogle
jamie breyfogleI am an international studies, philosophy and Spanish triple major from Danville, Pennsylvania. I love traveling and learning about the world, how it works, why it works that way, and how we can change it for the better. I joined the Mellon Scholars program because I think it will be a great way for me to combine my majors and interests into research that I find inspiring. After I graduate, I hope to go to law school and specialize in international human rights law, using my interests and talents to fight against human trafficking and other human rights abuses.
Natalie Weg
natalie wegI am double majoring in English literature and international studies and minoring in French global studies. As a military child, I have lived all over the United States, but I am most recently coming from Bangkok, Thailand. Over the summer, I interned at the United States Embassy in Bangkok and continued to travel around Southeast Asia. This year, I will be the secretary of Hope’s Asian Perspective Association and the RA for the French cottage. One of the biggest joys I have in life is forming personal connections with people from different countries, whether that be through language, arts or traditions. With the Mellon Scholars program, I am excited to explore my interests in literature and linguistics, focusing on European and Asian cultures. In the future, I hope to teach English as a second language and possibly pursue a career in foreign service.
Sylvia Rodriguez
sylvia rodriguezI am a proud first-gen Xicana from Houston, Texas. I decided when I was 6 or 7 years old that I wanted to go out of state for college in Michigan. After years of hard work and determination, here we are! I currently am an art history major and would like to add studio art soon! I believe that art, across cultures, is a beautiful way to express all the crazy mess within us. I was exposed to art history my senior year of high school and I have been incapable of dropping my obsession with the subject. Growing up in a big city in the neighborhoods glittered with beer cans and police tape, I aspire to help my community back home. In my lifetime I would like to own my own business that incorporates art with a mission to provide jobs and opportunities for inmates freed and current and youths exposed to gang violence.


Grace Pettinger
grace pettinger

I am a sophomore from Mount Vernon, Iowa. I am studying history with the intent of going into archival or museum studies. I am also on the Hope volleyball team and work at the Joint Archives as a student researcher. I have always been passionate about research, history and the connection between, and I can’t wait to see where the study of the past takes me in college as well as in my career. I am particularly interested in studying westward expansion and immigration in the United States in the 19th century. 

Maddie Stevens
maddie stevens

I am from Wheaton, Illinois, and I am a business/economics double major with a minor in Spanish! Studying the Spanish language and culture is important to me because I want to create cross-cultural relationships in my career, connecting with different people and creating richer experiences. The ability to speak a second language allows one to communicate effectively, gain the perspective of different individuals, and leave with a greater appreciation of the world when one can engage with people and places on a deeper level. Combining these two interests, I am hoping that proficiency in another world language will allow me to build vital cross-cultural relationships to better answer the “bigger picture” questions of global business and economics. In developing the necessary skills for a career such as professional writing, public speaking and thinking creatively, the Mellon Scholars Program gives me the opportunity to integrate my passion for Spanish to my career in business.

Maggie Houseman
maggie houseman

I am from Grand Rapids, Michigan, and am a social work major with a Spanish minor. I believe it is very important to generate an understanding of others through their language and culture. Doing this helps develop a path for human morality and empathy, leading us to become global citizens. Once we have a strong sense of global citizenship, we can begin to make societal change and fight for social justice. This summer, I had the opportunity to research the history of Latinos in Holland through a Mellon Grand Challenges Grant, and also interned with a local non-profit, Lighthouse Immigrant Advocates. I am excited to be joining the Mellon Scholars program to continue to grow my knowledge and understanding about other people and cultures.

Rachael Grochowski
rachael grochowski

I am from Crystal Lake, Illinois, and I am currently working towards a double major in English and Japanese studies. At Hope, I have participated in Nykerk Play and earned the English Department’s George Birkhoff English Prize for my literary comparison of two short stories. I am in a constant state of wanderlust and recently spent an incredible month in Japan. I intend to study abroad in Japan and Europe during my four years at Hope. My interests lie heavily in not only learning foreign languages but understanding how current education systems spread language learning and what can be done to improve them. I am passionate about communication across language barriers and discovering how language shapes and spreads culture. Looking forward, I hope to further my fascination with language, literature and culture through research as a Mellon Scholar and perhaps discover how I might combine these interests as a career later on.