FFRF awards $10,150: 2017 Essay Contest for High School Students

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is proud to announce the 17 winners of the 2017 William Schultz High School Essay Contest.

FFRF has offered essay competitions to college students since 1979, high school students since 1994 and graduate students since 2010.

High school seniors were asked to write a personal persuasive essay about what they would like to tell a believer in their life about why they chose freethought (atheism, agnosticism).

After carefully reviewing more than 170 essays, FFRF awarded six top prizes and 11 honorable mentions.

Winners are listed below and include the award amount and the college or university they will be attending. FFRF has paid out a total of $10,150 in award money for this contest this year.

First place
Zakaria Sharif, Stanford ($3,000)

Second place
Allison Wheeler, Centre College ($2,000)

Third place
Daniel Vogler, Princeton ($1,000)

Fourth place
Evan Muskopf, Rochester Institute of Technology ($750)

Fifth place
Ian Garvie, University of Northern British Columbia ($500)

Sixth place
Quinn Freidl, undeclared ($400)

Honorable mentions ($200 each)

  • Donald Fasce, Franklin and Marshall
  • Audrey Godwin, Vassar College
  • Phoebe Greene, University of North
  • Carolina-Wilmington
  • Alisha Griffin, Bucknell University
  • Hannah Hanson, Berklee College of Music
  • Alexander Hernandez, undeclared
  • Aya Keller, University of California-Berkeley
  • Lindsay Philcox, Brandeis University
  • Tori Roberts, California State University-Stanislaus
  • Taryn Waite, Colby College

The high school contest is named for the late William J. Schultz, a Wisconsin member who died at 57. He was a mechanical engineer and cared deeply about FFRF’s work, leaving a bequest that funds the award.

FFRF also thanks Dean and Dorea Schramm of Florida for providing a $100 bonus to students who are members of a secular student club or the Secular Student Alliance. The total of $10,150 reflects those bonuses.

The college student essay winners will be announced in the October issue and the grad student essays will be announced in the November issue.

Freedom From Religion Foundation