Rombach and Bretall 2020 Awardees

April 21, 2020

The Department of Religious Studies and Classics is happy to announce the winners of the Lionel Rombach and Ora Bretall Awards for the 2019-2020 academic year. 

Awardees for the Ora Bretall Award are (alphabetical by last name): Crysta Lynn Burks, Sarah Thet Rasner, Sydney Savannah Young.

Awardees for the Lionel Rombach Award are (alphabetical by last name): Samantha Taylor Beben, Cheyenne Monique Hubbard, Zachary A. Panza, Richard Riley.

Congratulations to our outstanding Religious Studies students!

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

Samantha Taylor Beben:

When I was younger, my grandmother was a heavy influencer in my life and told me that I should be in math or science in order to make money. I forgot every other interest of mine like drawing, religion, and sewing in order to pursue science. I got to college and realized that science wasn’t for me because of the careers I had to choose from so I started going back in time to reignite old interests. Not only this, but in my Religion and Sex class, I realized that studying religion is more than studying what people believe in, it’s studying humanity, society, politics, and psychology. With a Religious Studies degree, I’m able to understand people on a deeper level than if I chose one of those singular degrees.


Zachary A. Panza:

Being a Religious Studies major has been one of the most enriching experiences of my life. In my eyes, it’s a holistic field of study that touches on almost every aspect of life and human history. I chose this area of study after years of independently studying religion throughout middle school and high school. Religious studies is an essential part of understanding not only human history, but the world’s social, cultural, and political landscape in the present.



Sarah Thet Rasner:


When I first started my college education, I didn't know that religious studies was even an option for me. After taking a few religious studies classes for my general education credits, I was hooked. I really enjoy reading and analyzing New Testament literature. The religious studies department at UA has been a great resource for me, I am constantly emailing old professors with questions I find I have when doing research independently. 




Richard Riley:

After about a year into college, picking a major that allowed me to exercise my truest desires seemed a must. Studying and being religious is one area that has allayed some existential ordeals that circle around one's longing for firm, historically rich connections. Yet besides the larger point, what I did not foresee enjoying was the small community of people I would join who share similar passions for religion and science. I do believe that the philosophical lining within religion can perhaps aid in solving some scientific puzzles, as well as moral and ethical issues in nearly all avenues of our social sphere. The allowance of these expressions has and will continue to add to my meaningful University experience and am highly grateful for being a recipient.


Sydney Savannah Young:

I chose to study religion because I have been passionate about learning about other cultures and religions ever since I took world religions in high school. I had mainly studied Theology and wanted to expand my knowledge of all religions and religious practices. When I learned that religious studies had a ‘health professions’ track I knew this was the right major for me. I have enjoyed so far expanding my knowledge and also getting to know professors and making friends within the major. To me, the academic study of religion is important because I believe it is imperative to be accepting of other cultures and learn how to work with and understand all people.