$6,300 Awarded to Top College Student Essayists

Top-placing entries in the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s 2009 college student essay contest are printed in this issue starting on page 10.

The Foundation has awarded a total of $6,300 in scholarships to the 13 winning essayists. Nearly 200 essays were submitted on the topics “Why I Reject Religion,” “Why I Am an Atheist/ Agnostic/Unbeliever” and “Growing Up a Freethinker.”

The Michael Hakeem Memorial Award of $2,000 and first place go to Enricka Dillman for “What About the Ram?” She’s a veterinary student at Texas A&M.

Hakeem was a University of Wisconsin–Madison sociology professor who died at age 90 in 2006. Mike, the son of first-generation immigrants, was the first in his family to go to college and went on to earn a Ph.D. He influenced generations with his classes in critical thinking. A stalwart atheist, he was chair of the Foundation’s governing board for many years.

Second place and $1,000 go to Jon Adams, a senior at Utah State University who is studying political science and sociology. His essay is “A Declaration of Intellectual Indepen­dence.”

Nora Fiore, a French major at Middlebury College (Vt.), was awarded third place and $500 for her essay “A Scar, My Parents, and Fighting Intoler­ance in the Fourth Grade: Why I Am an Agnostic.”

Ten honorable mentions and $200  each were awarded to:

Jessica Critcher, English major, University of Hawaii–Manoa, “Living Beyond God”
Leslie Zukor, anthropology, Reed College (Portland, Ore.), “My Journey From Faith to Reason”
Jamie Figueroa, creative writing, Institute of American Indian Arts (Santa Fe, N.M.), “You Can Keep Your God”
Heather Blum, general studies, University of Wisconsin–Marinette, “Have You Seen Any Elephants, Lately?”
David Alexander, journalism/economics, Western Michigan University, “God Did Not Create Man. Man Created God”
Theresa Lii, neuroscience, Brown University (Providence, R.I.), “Wait Until You’re Older: How a Child Becomes a Freethinker”
Victoria Mead, geography/sociology, Hunter College–City University of New York, “Why I Choose to Be ‘Other’”
Carolyn Parsons, animal sciences, Washington State University, “Born Again”
Patricia Cepeda, public health, University of North Florida, “Faith Is Not the Answer”
Sarah Pozgay, English literature, Swarthmore College (Swarthmore, Pa.), “Just Another God Spiel”

Honorable mention essays will be printed in upcoming issues. The Foundation  sincerely thanks all the entrants and is appreciative of Foundation members who contribute to the scholarship fund.

Thanks to the generosity of Florida Foundation members Dean and Dorea Schramm, top-placing essayists re­ceived an additional $100 each and $50 went to each honorable mention.

Freedom From Religion Foundation