Rombach and Bretall 2021 Awardees

December 14th, 2020

The Department of Religious Studies and Classics is happy to announce the winners of the Lionel Rombach and Ora Bretall Scholarship Awards for the 2020-2021 academic year. 

Awardees for the Ora Bretall Award are (alphabetical by last name): Jillian Big and Ismael Adrian Patino.

Awardees for the Lionel Rombach Award are (alphabetical by last name): Joey Montes, Hannah E. Pearlman, Alyssa Peterson.

Congratulations to our outstanding Religious Studies majors!

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

Jillian Big:

The Religious Studies major equips students with a greater understanding of how beliefs guide thought processes and actions. Each class expanded my perception of the world, allowing me the opportunity of recognizing religious effects on cultural norms. Today, I notice the function of religion in movies or music, as well as its place in philosophy, politics, economics, and law. The Religious Studies major has allowed me to learn from brilliant people in their respective disciplines who have all impacted my life for the better.


Joey Montes:

I think that it is extremely important to analyze religion because it is essential to see the evolution of current religious thought. So much of our history is steeped in religion and I think that it is negligent to not put forth the effort to understand where we came from and how we got here. Religion as a whole, not just Abrahamic religions, have completely shaped how people see the world and that also goes for those who are atheist like myself. Whether one likes it or not, the world around us and the morals that have been instilled in us are steeped in religious rhetoric, and it is critical to examine this aspect of life. So far, my experience with the religious studies major has been amazing and I have gotten to learn so much while taking enjoyable courses. I look forward to taking more religious studies classes in the future and learning more about the intersections of religion and everyday life. 


Ismael Adrian Patino:

Every course I have taken as a Religious Studies major has been based on exploring the “big picture” to understand each topic. For me, Religious Studies has meant that I can understand a diverse range of different beliefs which makes me understand and respect others in a different and better manner. I chose Religious Studies as a second major (Political Science being my first major) because I wanted to learn to understand different worldviews. The part that I enjoy most about my Religious Studies major is the faculty. The Faculty makes a great connection with their students and have prepared me to succeed during current courses and to prepare me for my future! The academic study of religion is very important because I find that most people need to find a better understanding of the religious world around us.


Hannah E. Pearlman:

The academic study of religion is important because understanding the difference and similarities of both well known and lesser known religions creates understanding of the links between those religions and their impacts on human history.  Without the knowledge that contrasting religions are just as important as one’s own religion and the ability to view those religions as sets of beliefs that bring people together rather than divide, people miss necessary components and personal development to help create a more peaceful and accepting world community.  One of the main reasons the academic study of religion is important to me is that women are becoming more important in the field because of their interpretation of history in relation to religion. Women have been historically excluded from academic conversations and their findings are regularly stolen or downplayed to discourage further findings through a feminsit lens. Women’s persistence in Religious studies has bleed into all areas of Academia to the point that many historians now consider historical explanations to be inaccurate if they do not include an interpretation through a feminist lens. Through learning about the important roles that women have played in religious history; or have been unable to play within belief systems, women like myself can provide insight and create pathways and opportunities in faiths where it historically was not available or actively prevented from occuring to advance society as a whole. 


Alyssa Peterson:

Being a Religious Studies major has given my future goals in STEM a purpose and a dream. My Religious Studies background will prove valuable in many aspects of my future goals. I plan on pursuing a Ph.D. in Infectious Diseases Research in developing countries and my goal is to bring cures and interventions to these countries around the world. Religion permeates every part of a culture, and culture creates a community. Having a strong background in local religions will allow me to be a more powerful, versatile, and effective scientist as I collaborate with scientific professionals all over the world to eradicate infectious diseases. The knowledge I have gained in my studies in this major has been invaluable to my future goals, and I am so thankful that I am a Religious Studies major!