This post is dedicated to our annual award winners. We are proud of all of them, and we are happy to recognize their hard work and their contributions to the History Department and to Hope College.

Future History Teacher Prize – Winner: Andre Joe (’21)

This award is given to the History student who is deemed as the most promising future teacher, based on commitment to the discipline and achievement in both history and education courses.

Dr. Lauren Janes has said the following of Andre: “Andre has a real passion for education and the importance of teaching history. This passion comes through in his capstone research on the history of education in the Philippines, which examines the role of American teachers in shaping Filipino education and culture.”


The Ray de Young History Prize – Winners: Autumn Balamucki (’21) & Laura Anthon (’21)

This award is given to the senior student(s) whose interest, achievement, and promise in history, as indicated by his/her academic record and a significant piece of historical research, most merit the award.

Dr. Lauren Janes has said the following of Autumn: “Autumn Balamucki has tackled challening research projects and educational adventures, including a semester in Peru, a summer research project in the Joint Archives of Holland, and an excellent history seminar paper on changing perceptions of the Spanish American War by local veterans.”

Dr. Lauren Janes has said the following of Laura: “Laura Anthon interned at the Smithsonian American History Museum in Washington, DC. Her current research takes a global history lens towards understanding the early twentieth-century boom in cocoa production in the small West African island of São Tomé.”


The Robert L. Melka Memorial Award – Winners: Kent Colbrunn (’24) & Luke Ruiter (’23)

This prize is awarded annually to a freshman or sophomore for an essay in European history that is judged superior by the faculty of the Department of History.

Dr. Janis Gibbs has said the following of Kent: “Kent Colbrunn used the Alexiad of Anna Comnena and a variety of secondary and graphic sources to create an excellent analysis of the role the Byzantine Empire played in the Crusades.”

Dr. Janis Gibbs has said the following of Luke: “Luke Ruiter skillfully analyzed the Albigensian Crusade of the thirteenth century, using Bernard Gui’s Manual for Inquisitors and Peter of Vaux-de-Cernay’s Historia Albigensis, as well as scholarly secondary sources.”


The Miles Award in Law – Winner: Jacob Woodford (’21)

This is an award established by Judge Wendell A. Miles in honor of his father, Judge Fred Thomas Miles, presented to a senior student whose promise in the study of law is judged superior by the faculty of the Department of History.

Dr. Jeffrey Polet has said the following of Jacob: “Jacob Woodford’s classroom work and LSAT scores all point to success both in law school and in the legal career. His many on campus activities and leadership roles have embodied elements of Hope’s mission.”


Metta J. Ross History Prize – Winner: Grace Pettinger (’22)

This award is given to the junior student whose interest, achievement, and promise in history, as indicated by academic record and career plans, in the judgment of the History faculty, most merit recognition.

Dr. Jeanne Petit has said the following of Grace: “Grace has fully engaged as a history major, both in classes and through her job in the archives. She has demonstrated creative thinking and an excellent work ethic.”


Bill Cohen Memorial Award – Winners: Maria Siedl (’22) & Mary Kamara-Hagemeyer (’22)

This is a new award this year and is honor of our beloved late colleague, Bill Cohen. This award honors the undergrad student(s) who have demostrated the most promising historical study thus far.

Dr. Jeanne Petit has said the following of Maria: “Maria took on a challenging topic in the World War I America class in her examination of the fight for citizenship by Native American soldiers. She found excellent sources and wrote a strong analysis of how these men made their case for national belonging.”

Dr. Fred Johnson has said the following of Mary: “Using the facts of America’s tortured history of race and racism, Mary wrote an unflinching analysis that examined the nation’s likely response if presented with the opportunity to, once and for all, remove African Americans from daily life. Her skilled use of sources to find details used for making her powerful, persuasive argument highlighted Mary’s critical-thinking strengths and her power of exposition.”


Congrats to all of our winners! These award winners will be honored at a private ceremony on May 4th.

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