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Calvin Freshman Writes Winning Essays
March 3, 2006

When Chase Hulderman received a $200 prize from the Amy Foundation for his essay, “Rescuing an American Hero from Obscurity: Why George Washington is Important Today,” it was the latest in a string of writing honors for the first-year Calvin student from Clarkston, Michigan.

And writing is an atypical pursuit for the science-minded student.

“I didn’t actually like to write,” Hulderman says of the senior year he spent penning essays for scholarship money. “I never was good at English, and I didn’t like it.”

The George Washington essay was printed in Pen & Sword, the newsletter of the Lansing-based Amy Foundation. The foundation sponsors several contests each year honoring writing that articulates a biblical position on world events.

Hulderman, who is planning to major in biochemistry, learned about the essay opportunity through his mentor, a press secretary in the Michigan House Republican Communications Office. The mentorship, which followed Hulderman’s internship in the communications office, guided him to a number of essay opportunities, all of which offered scholarship money and centered on themes of government.

Last year, an essay on George Washington won Hulderman a 2005 Washington Crossing Foundation Scholarship of $1,000. The award also included a tour of Independence Hall and other historic sites in Philadelphia for Hulderman, the sole Michigan recipient, and other honorees.

“They were like-minded,” said Hulderman, who describes himself as politically conservative. “We got along well. And they all had worked in government in some aspects.” (During his senior year, Hulderman also worked as an intern and legislative aide for Rep. Fulton Sheen, R-Plainwell.)

Another essay about the Supreme Court and the first Amendment landed Hulderman second place in a contest sponsored by the Camp American Foundation, whose aim is to educate students and adults about the U.S. Constitution and the Christian principles that played a part in the founding of this nation.

Hulderman’s mentorship gave him a broader perspective of his education in high school and beyond he says.

"My whole high school year, I was heavily weighted in areas I was interested in. My senior year was an eye-opener. I didn’t like biology, and I took a biology course. I didn’t like English, and I was writing.”

Though he says he never grew to love writing, Hulderman did grow in skill.

“I learned a lot about how to write. I learned how to condense everything. I learned how not to be wordy. I learned that I was a decent writer and won a couple of contests. It was a really neat process, being able to work with words that way,” he says.

The broadening of his education continued when he decided to choose a college, he adds. Because of a newfound interest in science, Hulderman at first favored Cal Tech or MIT. When he talked with career scientists about his college search, however, they encouraged him to get a liberal arts education—and he chose Calvin.

“You want to develop a well-rounded person,” Hulderman says he realized. “Your English major still has to take the science classes and your science major still has to take the English classes.”

When Hulderman reflected on the Amy Foundation prize, which he learned he had won back in December, he says it was like a culmination to the whole year of writing and what he had learned.

"It was a good learning process," he says.

~written by media relations staff writer Myrna Anderson