FFRF is announcing topics, rules and deadlines for its 2013 high school, college and graduate/mature student essay scholarship competitions.
FFRF, an educational state-church watchdog that has more than 19,000 members nationwide, has offered essay competitions to college students since 1979. In 1994, FFRF added a separate contest for college-bound high school seniors. To include even more students, FFRF debuted its first “graduate students over age 25” competition in 2010.
This year the awards are $2,000 for the first-place essay, $1,000 for second place, $750 for third place, $500 for fourth place, $400 for fifth place and $300 for sixth place. Several $200 “honorable mentions” are awarded at the judges’ discretion.
Thousands of scholarship programs reward students for blind faith and orthodoxy, but few reward students for using reason! FFRF members are asked to help publicize FFRF’s important outreach to the next generation by bringing the contests to the attention of their local high schools, colleges and universities. See ads in the back wrap or visit: ffrf.org/outreach/student-essay-contests/.
William J. Schulz High School Senior Essay Competition
This competition is newly endowed in memory of William J. Schulz, a member of FFRF who left a major bequest to FFRF. William was a farm boy in Edgar, Wis., who became a chemical engineer and built paper-producing mills around the world. He also had a degree in German, held several patents, brewed his own beer and was a recreational pilot. He died at 57 of a stroke.
Topic: Challenges of Being a Young Freethinker.
A freethinker is “one who forms his or her opinion about religion based on reason, rather than faith, tradition or authority.” Write from a personal perspective about the challenges you’ve faced as a nonbelieving teenager, in your family, your high school or community. Maybe you took flak for being an atheist, stood up for freethought or spoke out against the encroachments of religion in the classroom, at school events, in government, or in your family. Write about how you’ve dealt with such challenges.
Eligibility: North American high school senior who graduates in spring 2013, going on to college in fall 2013.
Word length: 500 to 700 words.
Deadline: Postmarked no later than June 1, 2013. Winners announced in August.
Michael Hakeem Memorial College Essay Competition
The late Michael Hakeem, a sociology professor, was an FFRF officer and active atheist known by generations of University of Wisconsin-Madison students for fine-tuning their reasoning abilities.
Topic: Why I Don’t Believe in God.
Use a personal (first-person) approach about why you are a nonbeliever. Muster your best intellectual or philosophical arguments for rejecting religion, but frame it within your personal experiences.
Word length: 750 to 900 words.
Eligibility: Currently-enrolled undergraduate college student through age 24, including college seniors graduating in Spring or Summer 2013, attending a North American college or university.
Deadline: Postmarked no later than June 15, 2013. Winners announced by September.
Brian Bolton Graduate/ “Older” Student Essay Competition
The competition is generously endowed by Brian Bolton, an FFRF Lifetime Member who is a retired psychologist, humanist minister and university professor emeritus at the University of Arkansas.
Topic: Why the USA Is Not a “Christian Nation.”
Research and debunk the perennial “Christian nation” myth, citing specific, chronic or topical “Christian nation” claims. You may wish to use examples of the harm created by the widespread perception that the U.S. government is based on a deity, the bible, the Ten Commandments or Jesus, or by instances of religion in government.
Eligibility: Currently enrolled graduate student up to age 30, or undergrads ages 25-30, attending a North American college or university, including but not limited to someone graduating or earning a degree in spring or summer 2013.
Word Limit: 750 to 1,000 words.
Deadline: Postmarked no later than July 15, 2013. Winners announced in September.
Rules applying to
Essays must be submitted both by mail by postmark deadline and email by the specified deadlines. No faxes accepted. All essays must be typed, double-spaced, standard margins and stapled. Must include word count.
Place your name and essay title on each page. Entrants choose their own title and include a one-paragraph biography on separate page at end of essay. Your bio should include name, age and birth date, hometown, university or college, year in school, major or intended major, degree being earned and interests.
High school students should include high school’s name, city, state and date of graduation as well as intended college. Do not include a résumé. Provide both summer and fall 2013 addresses (campus and home), phone numbers and email addresses for notification. Winners may be asked to send verification of student enrollment.
Students will be disqualified if they do not follow instructions. FFRF monitors for plagiarism. Do not write under or over word minimums and maximums.
By entering, students agree to permit winning essays to be printed in full or in part in Freethought Today, FFRF’s newspaper, and posted online at ffrf.org. Winners agree to promptly provide a photograph suitable for reproduction with their essay. Winners will receive a school-year subscription to Freethought Today. All eligible entrants will be offered a subscription to Freethought Today or a freethought book or product.
Mail essays by required deadline to:
______ (fill in) Essay Competition
PO Box 750
Madison WI 53701