2018-2019 Rombach and Bretall Awardees

April 17, 2019

The Department of Religious Studies and Classics is happy to announce the winners of the Lionel Rombach and Ora Bretall Awards for the 2018-2019 academic year. 

Awardees for the Ora Bretall Award are (alphabetical by last name): Lindsay Briese, Cecilia Cruz, Chelsea Forer, and Gamini Sethi.

Awardees for the Lionel Rombach Award are (alphabetical by last name: Pascal Albright, Henry Gorton, Sofjia Malbasic, Alexandra Pere, Amelia Symm, and Abigail Williams.

Congratulations to our outstanding Religious Studies students!

Read (in their words) how majoring in Religious Studies has enriched their lives and studies:

Lindsay Briese:

I felt as though I was lacking something else in my education. I was learning all about individual differences, but I had a strong urge to learn about the world around me. [Religious Studies] not only built upon my appreciation for the world around me, but helped me to realize that much of the ways we communicate and live in the world is through the presence of religion and much of what we do and how we think is because of these roots. Not only have I developed a greater understanding for the religious presence in the world, but I gained an appreciation for the role that religion plays in our individual lives.The passion displayed in my professors has only made me more intrigued by the content and eager to learn more.

Cecilia Cruz:

Being a Religious Studies major has profoundly impacted my time at the U of A. My favorite impact is that I have been able to engage in many important discussions with my classmates and peers. I am able to understand their backgrounds and bear a variety of explanations that I had never thought of. Most importantly, being Religious Suites major has meant that I have become more open-minded. I don't have stereotypical views towards any religions, and I am able to listen to people's beliefs, which are qualities that I try to share and recommend to those around me.

Chelsea Forer:

My experience within the Religious Studies department has facilitated a level of inquiry and provided a relevant and rich set of knowledge I neither expected from my studies nor doubt the significance and rarity of within the academic context. A culmination of pedagogy, curriculum, and professor-student relationships have made my experience within the program remarkable. Each Religious Studies course that I am in provides me with a renewed sense of the complex and vibrant nature of the world, its people, and their deepest held beliefs.

Gamini Sethi:

Not only has [Religious Studies] challenged me to broaden my scope of academic study, but it has also provided me with an array of opportunities as well as the support to be able to explore them. My Religious Studies professors have continued to provide me with opportunities to explore my interests in a manner that best fit me. During my time in RELi courses, all of my educators have enthusiastically helped me connect my interest in Art History to the Religious Studies curriculum. My experience at the UA has been made significantly more meaningful because of the Religious Studies faculty and their continued support of my various endeavors.

Pascal Albright:

[Religious Studies] has given me a better understanding of myself and my interest of this world. I find people and culture beyond amazing and taking this course [of study] and learning the history, the culture and the way lives are built around aspects and religions was fascinating to learn.

Henry Gorton:

I couldn't help but major in Religious Studies: world religions have fascinated me since I was a child.The Religious Studies courses that I have taken thus far have been my most insightful and eye-opening classes.

Sofjia Malbasic:

I declared my Religious Studies major after I realized just how much the RELI classes I have taken have helped me understand people, the reasons behind their actions, and the faith that is at the core of their daily life. As I took religious studies courses, this curiosity expanded even further. I learned new and different reasons behind people's actions, and how religion can affect the choices of people. This influx of incredible information on people's decisions is what drove me to choose a Religious Studies major.

Alexandra Pere:

Religious studies have been the propelling forces of my personal growth as an adult. My freshman year at UA, I quickly realized that learning about religious traditions was essential to understanding modern political atmospheres and social constructs. The application of a religious studies major has been the most enlightening experience of my college years because I'm able to make connections between individual biases and religious bringing in our modern climate .

Amelia Symm:

[Religious Studies] means that I not only learn how to approach religions but also that I learn about religions around the world, religions that contribute to people's walks of life in significant ways. Besides possibly containing the most diverse group of students of my three majors, the Religious Studies community is also the most welcoming and kind. The students and professors I've interacted with embody the very characteristics of Religious Studies, through understanding, acceptance, knowledge, and perseverance. The impact of this major on my undergraduate career has quite possibly changed my life. If I hadn't decided to join this smaller community, I likely would have transferred to a smaller college closer to home to gain a sense of family.

Abigail Williams:

Religious studies has radially impacted my experience as an undergraduate. I have learned so much about different cultures and it also did something I never thought would be possible . When I started college I had a clear goal and I had my life all planned out, then I started to think about things and Religious Studies threw-off my plan. I started thinking about different careers I could have, and my life no longer was predetermined. It was altered all because of Religious Studies.

Photos of Awardees: Top Row (left to right) : Lindsay Briese, Cecilia Cruz, Chelsea Forer, Gamini Sethi, and Pascal Albright. Bottom Row (left to right): Henry Gorton, Sofjia Malbasic, Alexandra Pere, Amelia Symm, and Abigail Williams.