The Department of Religious Studies recently presented its 2022 Religious Studies Awards to three outstanding students – Anneli Schlacht, Whitnie Clark, and Madelyn Webb. The awards presented include the Robert T. Anderson Award, Engaged Scholar Award, and Nick Rashford and Jake Folio Award.
Robert T. Anderson Award
Anneli Schlacht, who is graduating this spring with a B.A. in Religious Studies, is this year’s recipient of the Robert T. Anderson Award, which recognizes the Religious Studies undergraduate primary major senior who has achieved the highest-grade point average.
“Throughout my time in the Religious Studies program, I have been amazed at how far reaching and diverse the field is,” Schlacht said. “Religion touches nearly all aspects of life and studying this sheds new light on multiple different disciplines. For my thesis, I have focused on veganism and Jainism and conducted a comparative analysis of the two in terms of dietary practices and intentional eating.”
Engaged Scholar Award
Graduating this spring with a B.A. in Religious Studies, Whitnie Clark is this year’s recipient of the Engaged Scholar Award, which recognizes the Religious Studies undergraduate major who best represents the ideal of the engaged scholar and whose aspirations are to serve the wider community.
“When considering Religious Studies, my favorite aspect is the diverse interpretations of religion and theories of religion allowing it to be unique to oneself,” said Clark, who during her time at MSU did research on Chaplaincy and how it is expressed from an American, European, and Australian standpoint.
“Chaplaincy in the West dates back to the 4th century. It was there to provide soldiers with a sense of comfort as well as provide those with spiritual, moral, and ethical support,” she said. “The duty of Chaplaincy is outlined from the peacetime and wartime standard.”
“When considering Religious Studies, my favorite aspect is the diverse interpretations of religion and theories of religion allowing it to be unique to oneself.”Whitnie Clark
In her research, Clark used statistics on the use of Chaplains as well as evaluated work. Also, there was a comparative analysis of what a Chaplain would be in the health profession and that is Chaplaincy v. Pastoral Care.
From Detroit, Michigan, Clark says she originally came to Michigan State University for the Reserve Officer’s Training Corps to further herself in her military career. Upon graduation, she will be deployed overseas for a year. After she returns from deployment, she has plans to apply for nursing school at Wayne State University.
Nick Rashford and Jake Foglio All-University Award for Excellence
Madelyn Webb, a senior with a double major in Political Theory and Constitutional Democracy from James Madison College and Religious Studies from the College of Arts & Letters, is this year’s recipient of the Nick Rashford and Jake Foglio All-University Award for Excellence, which is an all-university award for excellence to acknowledge the accomplishments of an exceptional student in Religious Studies.
“Studying in the Religious Studies Department has been a joy and an honor,” Webb said. “Nowhere else have I found a community of peers and scholars all come together in addressing some of the most difficult questions we live with — what is life, how do we live it meaningfully, how do we find happiness — with such kindness, and empathy, and passion for understanding. It is here, where I have learned about issues of power, issues of race and gender, issues of othering, and issues about sorrow.”
Webb said she chose to come to MSU because of the promise of learning about something she cares about — human experience and human character. “This made me choose Michigan State,” she said. “My time in the Religious Studies Department and in James Madison College have been two sides of a coin in that education and I’m deeply grateful for my choice because of it.”
Webb’s thesis work has consisted of looking into sorrow, specifically how, in our desire to find appropriate ways of healing in matters of mental and emotional health, we have tried to simplify the nuances we live by.
“Studying in the Religious Studies Department has been a joy and an honor. Nowhere else have I found a community of peers and scholars all come together in addressing some of the most difficult questions we live with.”Madelyn Webb
“Religion and varying forms of spirituality are not the simple cure-all for peoples’ griefs,” Webb said, “but they can be integral to particular contexts and to know how to heal is to know how we navigate these bigger questions of life, meaning, and happiness.”
Webb plans to graduate from MSU in spring 2023. After college, she wants to focus on counseling and therapy and hopes to provide a safe space for people to feel true to themselves.
Written by Hannah Diggs