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2012 Student Essay Contest

FFRF Brian Bolton Graduate/Mature Student Essay Contest for Grad Students and Students Age 25 and Older

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has awarded graduate students (or any students 25 or older) $9,100 in this year's essay competition. Students were asked to describe "Why God and Government Are a Dangerous Mix – Especially in an Election Year," in 850-1,000 words. There were six major winners with a tie for fourth place, plus seven honorable mentions. The winners are: 

  • First place ($3,000): Elizabeth Pipal, Harvard Graduate School of Design.
  • Second place ($2,000): Wilson Melón, Purdue University.
  • Third place ($1,000): Lynn Wilhelm, North Carolina State University.
  • Fourth place ($500): Bryan Johnson, Colorado State University.
  • Fourth place ($500): Vicky Weber, Colorado State University.
  • Fifth place ($300): Jemille Bailey, Columbia University.
  • Honorable Mention ($200): Anastassia Smorodinskaya, Columbia University.
  • Honorable Mention ($200): Antwon Kennedy, Kennesaw State University.
  • Honorable Mention ($200): Ashley Miller, University of South Carolina.
  • Honorable Mention ($200): Justin Vacula, Marywood University.
  • Honorable Mention ($200): Kristina Beverlin, University of Kansas.
  • Honorable Mention ($200): Maria Rodriguez, University of Connecticut School of Law.
  • Honorable Mention ($200): Wanda Thompson, Western Governor’s University.

The awards are made possible by the generosity of FFRF Lifetime Member Brian Bolton, a retired psychologist, humanist minister and university professor emeritus at the University of Arkansas. FFRF would also like to extend a warm thank you to FFRF members Dean and Dorea Schramm for providing the honorable mention awardees with a $50 bonus.


FFRF Michael Hakeem Memorial College Essay Contest

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has awarded $7,800 to 10 college students in this year's essay competition. Students were asked to describe "Why I am an out of the closet atheist (freethinker)," in 750-900 words. There were five major winners, plus five honorable mentions. The top five essays can be found on pages 12-14 of the September issue of Freethought Today. The winners are: 

  • First place ($3,000): Laila Shalikar, University of California at Berkeley.
  • Second place ($2,000): Savannah Roland, College of Charleston.
  • Third place ($1,000): Casimir Klim, Columbia University.
  • Fourth place ($500): Anna Biela, Purdue University.
  • Fifth place ($300): Eric Ouellet, Carleton University.
  • Honorable Mention ($200): Kate Heetland, University of Northern Iowa.
  • Honorable Mention ($200): Leah Aeby, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.
  • Honorable Mention ($200): Lukas Deem, University of Central Arkansas.
  • Honorable Mention ($200): Michaelyn Everhart, University of Kansas.
  • Honorable Mention ($200): Omar De Los Santos, Yale University.

This year's awards were made possible by the Michael Hakeem Memorial, endowed by his bequest. Mr. Hakeem was a well-known sociology professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, an FFRF officer and active atheist. FFRF would also like to extend a special thank you to FFRF members Dean and Dorea Schramm for providing each student with a $50 bonus.


FFRF Herbert Bushong Annual Essay Contest for High School Seniors Who Are College-Bound in the Fall

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is pleased to announce the 2012 Herbert Bushong High School Essay Award Winners. FFRF has awarded $11,250 to 13 college-bound high school seniors in this year's essay competition. Seniors were asked to "describe a moment when they stood up for Freethought and/or that made them proud to be a freethinker," in 500-700 words. There were seven winners in the top five, with two ties for fourth and fifth place, plus six honorable mentions. Their essays can be found on pages 11-15 in the August Freethought Today. The winners are: 

  • First place ($3,000): Jordan Halpern, University of California-Davis. 
  • Second place ($2,000): Danielle Kelly, University of Montana in Missoula. 
  • Third place ($1,000): Joseph Price, UCLA. 
  • Fourth place tie ($500): Nicole Schreiber, New York University. 
  • Fourth place tie ($500): Sarah Hedge, Northwestern. 
  • Fifth place tie ($300): Rebecca Ratero, Rutgers. 
  • Fifth place tie ($300): Samantha Biatch, Smith College. 
  • Honorable Mention ($200): Abigail Dove, Swarthmore College. 
  • Honorable Mention ($200): Amedee Martella, University of Colorado-Boulder. 
  • Honorable Mention ($200): Cheyenne Tessier, The George Washington University (Cheyenne will defer her university enrollment for a year to do humanitarian service in Senegal with Global Citizen).
  • Honorable Mention ($200): Jarrett Browne, Wright State University. 
  • Honorable Mention ($200): Kaitlin Holden, Winthrop University. 
  • Honorable Mention ($200): Zach Gowan, USC Upstate. 

Nonagenarian Herbert "Harry" Bushong has endowed this year's contest. FFRF would also like to extend a special thank you to FFRF member John Moe for endowing the honorable mention awards of $200 and FFRF members Dean and Dorea Schramm for providing each student with a $50 bonus.

FFRF is a non-profit, educational organization. All dues and donations are deductible for income-tax purposes.

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