FFRF is pleased to announce that it has awarded cash scholarships totaling $5,000 to 10 entrants in the Brian Bolton Graduate/Mature Student Essay Competition. The competition, for graduate students and students age 25 and older, is named for its benefactor, a Texas FFRF Lifetime Member who is a retired psychologist, humanist minister and university professor emeritus at the University of Arkansas.
This year’s topic was, “Why Thomas Jefferson Got It Right! Why the Endangered ‘Wall of Separation between Church and State’ Must Be Defended.”
The $2,000 Brian Bolton Award went to Hilary McKinney, 25, a third-year law student focusing on Native American law at the University of Tulsa. Essays are reprinted starting page 11. (A few will be reprinted in future issues.)
Second place and $1,000 went to Matthew Mingus, 25, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Florida.
Third place and $500 went to Christina Speck, 26, a junior at Stephen F. Austin State University, Texas.
Receiving $300 for his fourth-place essay was Tyler Vunk, 34, a junior at the University of New England, Maine.
Six students each received $200 honorable mention awards:
Colin Gillen, 32, a sophomore at the University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown.
Robert Kalonian, 30, a junior at Columbia University.
Ana-Margarita López-Ospina, 36, pursuing her M.F.A. at New York University.
Alana Massey, 26, a second-year graduate student at Yale University.
Chris Redford, 29, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Kansas.
Robin Spoehr, 25, pursuing her M.S. at Rush University, Chicago.
“We consider scholarships to freethinking students as one of FFRF’s most important activities,” said FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor.
FFRF instituted a separate essay competition for older undergraduate students and graduate students last year, after over 30 years of offering a college competition focused at more “traditional” students. FFRF also holds an essay competition for graduating high school seniors.
FFRF thanks all the entrants for taking the time to write and offers either a school-year membership or a complimentary book to every eligible student.
“We are so grateful to Brian Bolton, a retired professor, for financing the graduate essay competition,” said Dan Barker, FFRF co-president.
Next year’s essay topics will be announced in the February issue of Freethought Today.