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Hatfield Prize Recipients

What is the Hatfield Prize?

The Hatfield Prize is awarded annually to three student-faculty pairs from Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) schools. Recipients conduct research on social policies that impact vulnerable children, families, and communities, and explore the impact of these policies in their local communities. This semester-long research project culminates in three policy reports that make recommendations for both government and civil society institutions in contributing to policies that promote flourishing communities. The Prize honors the legacy of the late Senator Mark O. Hatfield, who served as a United States senator from Oregon for three decades. Hatfield was known for his principled Christian faith and for his commitment to working across differences to find common ground.

Meet the 2022 Hatfield Prize Recipients

The Center for Public Justice has named the recipients of the 2022 Hatfield Prize. This year’s research examines the impact of specific social policies on underserved families and communities, with a focus on justice-involved youth and refugee children and families. The recipients’ research will be published as three policy reports in September 2022.

Grace Retz & Michael Ritter

Grace Retz (Houghton, ‘22), advised by Michael Ritter, Ph.D., is a senior at Houghton College pursuing her bachelor’s degree in biology and international development, with minors in global health and political science. She will be completing her research for the Hatfield Prize during the spring semester of her senior year. Grace has been an active member of Journey’s End Tutoring, a club at her university that serves refugees in the surrounding community through English tutoring. She now serves as the club’s president, and is facilitating a home placement and setup project for a newly arriving refugee family in the coming spring. Grace has a combined interest in healthcare and cross cultural service, and plans to cultivate those passions through future degrees in nursing and global health. 

Research focus: Grace is researching the impact of language barriers on refugee food insecurity in Buffalo, New York. Her research will put a lens on the experience of food-insecure refugee families and make recommendations for how government and civil society institutions, including faith communities, can better support refugee families.

Michael Ritter, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of International Development at Houghton College, where he teaches courses on poverty and development, public health, research methods, and non-profit management. His research focuses on program impact evaluation and water and sanitation in developing countries. Prior to teaching, Michael co-founded and managed a non-profit that addresses safe water in Haiti through a locally-driven social entrepreneurship model. He received a B.S. in molecular biology from Grove City College, an MPH in global health from Emory University, and a Ph.D. in environmental health from Tufts University. He and his wife Charoma live in Houghton, New York with their son.

Kyle Chu & Jason Renn

Kyle Chu (Messiah University, ‘24), advised by Jason Renn, Ph.D., is a second generation Chinese student at Messiah University. He is working towards a major in political science and international relations, along with minors in music and statistics. Kyle was born and raised in Ohio, where he attended Mars Hill Academy, a private classical Christian school, for most of his K-12 years. His interests span many areas, including playing basketball, reading Shakespeare, the Puritans, and George Orwell, eating Asian foods, playing piano, house remodeling, and maintaining planted aquariums. Kyle loves Jesus and wants to experience the expansion of His Kingdom.

Research Focus: Kyle is researching the juvenile justice system in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. He will focus specifically on diversion and prevention models that keep young people in their communities and provide restorative, holistic support. Kyle’s research will highlight the need for juvenile justice reform and offer recommendations for government and civil society institutions, including faith-based organizations and houses of worship, to partner together for the flourishing of youth and their communities.

Jason Renn, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Politics and International Relations at Messiah University where he teaches courses in international politics and research methods. He received his Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with published research that focuses on the consequences of civil wars, the effect of international treaties, and quantitative methodology. Jason currently serves as the chair for Messiah University’s Scholarship and Fellowship Committee where he helps guide students through the application process for national awards and is the coordinator for Digital Humanities at Messiah, using his experience with Data Analytics to support projects in the area surrounding the capital of Harrisburg. He and his wife live in Central Pennsylvania.   

Rachel Smith & Piljoo Kang

Rachel Smith is a senior at Toccoa Falls College and is pursuing a degree in Family and Children’s Ministry with a double minor in Bible and Theology and Outdoor Leadership and Education. She is passionate about caring for people facing difficult circumstances and enjoys helping others navigate challenges by seeking beneficial change. Specifically, Rachel hopes to work with parents and children. She believes that childhood is a crucially important time developmentally because it sets the foundation for a child’s life. She plans to minister to families by either working directly with children or by supporting and guiding parents in raising their children. While at Toccoa Falls College, she serves as a Resident Assistant in the upperclassmen dorms, acting as a mentor and leader by building relationships and creating accountability for the residents. She also serves in Toccoa Elementary School as a third-grade mentor, where she meets with a child weekly to listen and talk about their life. In her free time, Rachel enjoys participating in outdoor activities in the North Georgia mountains, creating art projects, and investing in the community of her college campus.

Research focus: Rachel is researching the accessibility, affordability, and quality of child care for refugee families through localized research in Clarkston, Georgia. Her research will lead to recommendations for government and civil society institutions, including faith communities, that contribute to economic opportunity, stability, and culturally competent, high quality child care for refugee families.

Piljoo Kang, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Psychology at Toccoa Falls College, where she teaches courses in lifespan developmental psychology, social psychology, child & family advocacy, and research methods. She received her B.A. in Psychology from the University of California, Berkeley, Master’s degrees in Education from Harvard Graduate School of Education, Theology from Fuller Theological Seminary, and Linguistics from California State University, Northridge, and Ph.D. in Child and Adolescent Development from University of California Santa Barbara.  Her primary line of research focuses on the sociocultural and contextual influences of family, church, and community mentors on spiritual development and psychological functioning among children and adolescents from marginalized groups. In addition, her current research includes White racial identity development among emerging adults. She studies the intersectionality of multiple identities, namely racial, geographical, and religious: White Southern Christian. She and her artist/dentist husband live in Georgia and love traveling, especially to visit their three grown children in Los Angeles, California and Brooklyn, New York.

With Thanks

The Hatfield Prize is made possible through the generosity of The Annie E. Casey Foundation and the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust. We thank them for their support, but acknowledge that the findings and conclusions presented in the reports are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of these foundations.

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