Humanities Learning Center Annual Awards

The arts and humanities teach us who we are and what we can be. They lie at the very core of the culture of which we’re a part.”—Ronald Reagan

2018 Humanities Award Winners

Outstanding Humanities Organization Award: Osher Lifelong Learning Institute

Humanities Educator of the Year (tie): Yvette Kalinowski (Midland Public Schools) and Nina Knight (Saginaw Chippewa Tribal College)

Humanities Distinguished Scholar: Kimberly Wells (Delta College)

Emerging Humanities Scholar: Benjamin Barrett (Delta student)

Digital Humanities Scholar: Christina Szilagyi (adjunct professor at several local colleges/universities)


The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Saginaw Valley State University (OLLI), winner of the Outstanding Humanities Organization award, has supported the humanities for seventeen years through its diverse programming. OLLI offers access to the humanities for those aged 50 or older. They offer over 80 classes per semester at little or no cost and more than 30 trips per year. The person who nominated OLLI said that “OLLI itself is a study of the human experience.”

There was a tie for Humanities Educator of the Year. Yvette Kalinowski is an 8th grade history teacher for Midland Public Schools. For years, she has helped Delta College History faculty present a program called History Rocks to 8th grades among the various Midland schools and classrooms. She has also attended the Humanities Learning Center’s THATCamp (The Humanities and Technology Camp) and has integrated skills developed there in her classroom. Our other award winner is Nina Knight. Nina created a course for the Saginaw Chippewa Tribal College entitled, Popular Culture Star-Wars. For the final exam, students organized a Comic-Con which was a widely attended event for the area. She has also developed other Humanities-themed courses, such as Film and Ethnography. This course, too, included elements that included the broader Mt. Pleasant community. She was also awarded a Michigan Humanities Grant from the Michigan Humanities Council.

Kimberly Wells won the award of Humanities Distinguished Scholar for many reasons, but not least of which was the creation of her Emmy-winning documentary–Irene: Child of the Holocaust. This documentary helps preserve the story of a Holocaust survivor–the importance of which cannot be underscored. Film recordings allow us to hear the voices of survivors, see their faces, feel their pain, and celebrate their triumph. Her documentary is an important scholarly work that will educate for generations to come.

Benjamin Barrett is a Delta student who won the Emerging Humanities Scholar award for the work he did as an honors project for Delta’s course–History of Women and Gender in the United States. Ben created a YouTube mini-documentary on an influential woman from Saginaw, Michigan—Edith Baillie. This documentary required filming at several locations, historical research, and many interviews. It was a skillful production that is now used to educate others about this notable Saginawian.

Christina Szilagyi, adjunct professor of History, won the Digital Humanities Scholar award for her work with History with the Szilagyis, which is promoted across various media forms–a blog, Facebook page, and Twitter. Her nominator states, “her blog debunking “Ancient Aliens” pseudo-history is an excellent example of a humanities scholar engaging with the public by addressing popular (mis)conceptions of history in an accessible and non-patronizing way.” Her work brings interesting insight into history in an innovative way.

The Humanities Learning Center’s Advisory Board found all of these recipients greatly deserving of these awards and we are honored to have such talented, humanities-focused individuals in our community. Congratulations to them all!


For award criteria, see: HLC Awards Criteria

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