/ 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


Aine O'Connor

Aine O'ConnorI am a history and English literature major from South Bend, Indiana. Last year, I was the recipient of a First-Year Book Award in History. Over the summer I will be creating a website with several other history majors documenting the lives of Hollanders during World War I. I am involved in Hope’s service fraternity, Alpha Phi Omega, as well as Hope Catholics and Hearts Aloud. I will also be an RA in Van Vleck Hall during the 2017–2018 school year. I grew up fascinated by everything, so doing intensive research with the help of the Mellon Scholars is a perfect fit. I can’t wait to find a new story!

Carolyn Wetzel

Carolyn WetzelI am from Lafayette, Indiana, and I am a Sociology major as well as Spanish and peace and justice minor. On campus, I am a research assistant at the library, a tutor at the Academic Success Center, a member of Kappa Beta Phi, song girl in Nykerk, and an avid participant in intramural soccer. I am interested in researching the causes and effects of migration, as well as Spanish language and culture. I love to learn, so the Mellon Scholars program is a fantastic avenue in which I have the opportunity to investigate and gain a deeper understanding of topics within the arts and humanities. I hope to eventually become an attorney and work in immigration policy or defending human rights. 

Cherish Joe

cherish-joeI am an African-American female artist. Born in Saginaw, Michigan, I began developing my artistic talents from the age of three. At Hope College, I am an art studio major and possible art history and French minor. For me, art is a visual catalyst of human connection. Creativity in itself is a connection of ideas. I am interested in connection. While in the Mellon Scholar program, I will research different oppressed groups in connection to each other and tell each story in my work. Using the doctrine of civil and social rights leaders, along with cultural ideals throughout the world, I will explore approaches that fight for justice and mitigate the system that perpetuates self-hate and unfair treatment.

Emily Wolfe

Emily WolfeI am from Hartland, Michigan, on the east side of the state and I am studying communication with a minor in women's and gender studies. This year I will be researching alongside a professor of communication, become an active member of the Student Activities Committee, and be a member of the Dorian Sorority. I have always loved photography, but I am especially interested in how pictures that are spread through the media, of men and women, affect the way people view gender in the work place. I am thrilled to join this program to continue research beyond the classroom and form connections that I otherwise would not have had the opportunity to form.

Emma Wangstrom

Emma WangstromMy hometown is Michigan City, Indiana. I am double majoring in English: creative writing and communication. I am a member of the sorority Alpha Gamma Phi and was recently accepted into the National Communication Honor Society, Lambda Pi Eta. One can also find articles I have written in The Anchor. I joined Mellon Scholars to continue to strengthen my love for research and my interests in writing, visual and performing arts, and world history. After I graduate from Hope, I wish to pursue a career in publishing, marketing or wherever life takes me.

Hannah Kenny

Hannah KennyI am from Grand Haven, Michigan. My research interests revolve around culture and language, fueled by my social work and Spanish majors. I enjoy reading, running and traveling. I joined the Mellon Scholars to dig deeper into my education and to learn and grow more.

Madeleine Zimmerman

 Madeleine  ZimmermanI was born and raised in Chicago, and I am an art history major with a focus in Asian studies. I’ve been studying Mandarin Chinese since elementary school, and have always enjoyed the arts and humanities. In my freshman year I was fortunate enough to work for the Kruizenga Art Museum in researching and writing display descriptions for the 2017 fall exhibition. I’m also an active member of Hope’s Women’s Empowerment Organization. I joined the Mellon Scholars in hopes of starting down a path toward a career that will combine my interests in art history and Asian language and culture, and in hopes of meeting others who are just as passionate about the arts and humanities as I am.

Mitchell Van Acker

Mitchell Van AckerI am an English and studio art double major from Highland, Michigan. I’m developing my skills as a painter and writer. I’m inspired by Modernist painting and literature, Baroque and Renaissance painting and ancient Greek literature. I am the art editor of Opus, Hope’s literary and visual arts magazine, where I’ve published two poems, one of which was selected for the Ederman’s Prize for poetry. I joined Mellon scholars to be apart of a unique community of people who share my interests in the humanities, which will allow for a creative mixing of ideas and passions across several disciplines.

Rebecca Stanton

Rebecca StantonI am a French and English double major from Lake Forest, Illinois. I enjoy researching writers of the past and reflecting on how today’s society can learn from their perspectives. I have a passion for studying cultures around the world, and I am very interested in how separate cultures can influence one another. I became a Mellon Scholar with the hope that the program will provide me with an opportunity to learn about a wider variety of topics in greater depth, in order to not only know more about the world, but to use my research to express my own thoughts and challenge people to think about issues in new ways.

Sarah Herrera

Sarah HerreraA Chicago native; a die-hard White Sox fan. An English – creative writing major. A Mellon Scholar.
I am a writer, which is what brought me to the Mellon Scholars Program. I want to hone my skills as a researcher and continue my mission of being a life-long learner. As part of the program I want to create documentaries, but also further the discussion on the digital humanities.

Class of 2021

Abigail Venlet
abigail venletI am from Holland, Michigan, and I’m a studio art major with a minor in biology and a possible art history minor as well. Art has been a primary focus in my life for as long as I can remember, and in recent years my interest in biology has emerged and begun to intermingle with my love for art. The juxtaposition of art and biology and choosing to pursue both as a foundation for my future is a challenge which I’m excited to be taking on at Hope College. I am so looking forward to being part of the Mellon Scholars program, which offers me an environment that encourages and cultivates these two passions of mine in new ways alongside people who possess the same curiosities as I do.
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.
Amelia Waalkes
amelia waalkesI'm a biology and religion (culture, ethics and social witness) double major on the pre-med track. I'm from Zeeland, Michigan, and have been celebrating my Dutch heritage in Holland ever since I was a child. I'm easily excitable and filled with curiosity about how and why the world works the way it does. I spent my summer studying public health in Botswana. I will be an RA in Gilmore Hall for the 2018–2019 school year. At Hope, I participate in The Vagina Monologues and CASA, and I also work at Seventy-Six in downtown Holland. When I'm not studying, I love crafting (especially with glitter!), petting dogs and exploring nature. I was brought to Mellon Scholars because I knew that I needed to improve my communication skills as well as become more familiar with research before I apply for medical school. Once I declared my religion major, I realized that Mellon Scholars was the perfect fit!
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.
Keyshara Hudson
keyshara hudsonI was born and raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan. All my life I’ve had a passion for helping people. If someone is having a bad day I want to cheer them up. If someone needs advice, I try to give them the best advice that best fits their situation. My motivation comes from helping other people pursue their hopes and dreams. My declared major is social work, and I believe that the world lacks social justice in its entity. It’s lopsided and not completely balanced. I want to expose those social injustices and advocate reform for each injustice that persists to pollute our world. The arts and humanities component of the Mellon Scholars will inspire me to magnify worldwide social injustices through a social work major lens. Art has many different forms and colors and perspectives, which allows me and other people to see how social injustices begin, transpire and change. With my social work degree, I plan on taking action in an educational setting because school is the connector between community and family in a student’s life. I believe that a quality education is the gateway to achieving worldwide equality.
Laura Anthon
laura anthonI am from Hammond, Louisiana. I am interested in studying psychology, history and political science. I am also involved in a variety of Hope’s vocal ensembles. I am passionate about learning and am constantly curious about knowing more and understanding the how and why. I see research as a pursuit of truth, and a way of exploring the world and all the fascinating people within it. I look forward to the opportunity to follow my curiosities through research as a Mellon Scholar.
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.
Timothy Embertson
timothy embertsonI am a... uh... person? Yeah, that's a good place to start. Well, I am a person who grew up in the middle of the woods (Lake City in Northern Michigan basically) and who narrowly escaped the family tradition of attending Calvin College. Now happily finding myself at Hope College, I plan to snag a nice pair of majors in studio art and psychology, with theater sitting comfortably as a minor. As an artist, while I always enjoy a variety of media, I have begun to delve deeper into the area of printing and stencil work. Mellon Scholars to me is an opportunity to delve deeper into the more “intellectual” part of art. Technique is one thing, but the history and culture surrounding any given form of art is something I find myself intrigued by. Looking forward, I think it would be fantastic to combine both of my majors in pursuit of art therapy (but that does mean more school… ugh). However, I think it important to note that my occupation is not the most important piece of my future. As long as I can eat, and still be able to practice art, then I will be a content li’l human.


Anna Scott
anna scottHi, I’m Anna. I am an intramural athlete here at Hope College—I’d like to thank all my high school sports coaches for getting me here, I’m sure they’re proud. I have recently declared an English major because I enjoy writing and am constantly looking to get better at it. Currently, I’m in the market for a second major, one from a different (and maybe more marketable) discipline. Because of this, I am excited for the work the Mellon Scholars Program will be doing across many different academic arenas. I am also looking forward to researching, learning applicable digital skills and working closely with academic mentors. 
Anya Potter
Information coming soon!

Claire Buck
claire buck

I’m an English major from Rochester, New York. In addition to studying literature, I’m exploring my interests in biology and trying to find a career that incorporates my love of both stories and science. I’m excited about finding points of intersection between the humanities and the STEM fields, and I hope that Mellon Scholars will allow me to draw those kinds of interdisciplinary connections. This semester, I’ll be tutoring at the Writing Center, interning with the Jack Ridl Visiting Writers Series, and working as co-editor in chief of the Anchor. When I’m not studying, I like to bake for my friends, take long walks around Holland and write poetry.

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.

Paige Nielsen
paige nielsen

My name is Paige Nielsen, and I grew up in Memphis, Tennessee. I am an English major, and I have also been exploring the field of psychology on the pre-law track. I'm interested in how people function and in researching interpersonal relationships. I love making connections across disciplines, so Mellon is the perfect fit for me. I am also excited to learn new skills with technology to better enhance my learning. Outside of class I am on the Dance Marathon Dream Team, a tutor at the Writing Center and an avid participant in intramural sports. 

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.