2013 Michael Hakeem Memorial Award College Essay Winners

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has awarded and sincerely congratulates the 19 currently enrolled college students in this year's essay competitions. Students were asked to write about the topic, "Why I Don't Believe in God" in 750-900 words. There were eight winners in the top five, with two ties for fourth place, and a three-way tie for fifth place. There were also 11 honorable mentions this year.

The late Professor Michael Hakeem, a sociologist, was an FFRF officer and active atheist known by a generation of University of Wisconsin-Madison students, who generously endowed the college essay competition. FFRF would also like to extend a special thanks to Dorea and Dean Schramm in Florida for providing each student with a $50 bonus.

  • First place ($3050): Anne Clymer, 20, Champlain College
  • Second place ($2050): Daniel Munoz, 21, University of Texas- Austin
  • Third place ($1050): Rebecca Tippens, 23, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Fourth place ($550): Chelsey Shannon, 21, Kalamazoo College
  • Fourth place ($550): Andrew Spalding, 24, Florida State University
  • Fifth place ($350): Brieanna Kringlie, 18, University of Wyoming
  • Fifth place ($350): Daniel Mark Davis, 19, College of the Redwoods
  • Fifth place ($350): Justin Moss, 21, Pierce College in Lakewood
  • Honorable mention ($250): Kevin Granger, University of Arizona
  • Honorable mention ($250): Brandon Cooper, 21, Portland State University
  • Honorable mention ($250): Diana Vasquez-Aliaga, 19, University of Arizona
  • Honorable mention ($250): Ashley Bates, 20, University at Buffalo
  • Honorable mention ($250): Sonia Cruz-Rivera, 19, University of Massachusettes-Lowell
  • Honorable mention ($250): Megumi Kato, 19, Paul Mitchell: The School
  • Honorable mention ($250): Megan Hanna, 20, Doane College
  • Honorable mention ($250): Lillian Huebner, 18, University of Oregon
  • Honorable mention ($250): Jake Raymond, 20, Michigan Technological University
  • Honorable mention ($250): Parker Buel, 20, Columbus State Community College
  • Honorable mention ($250): Emerson Hardebeck, 20, Arizona State University

The top winning essays will appear in the September issue of Freethought Today, FFRF's newspaper, and honorable mentions will run in future issues.

"We consider our student scholarships as among FFRF's most important endeavors, to reward students for critical thinking," said FFRF Co-President Dan Barker. FFRF earlier this summer awarded $14,100, to a total of 20 college-bound high school graduates.

FFRF is also announcing that it will be underwriting a $1,000 scholarship through Black Skeptics Los Angeles to be awarded in 2014. BKLA this year awarded scholarships to "five brilliant youths of color who are first generation college students," announced Sikivu Hutchinson of BKLA in July.

Check back in Feb. 2014 for the guidelines to next years essay contest. 

2013 William J. Schultz High School Essay Award Winners ($14,100 awarded in scholarships) 

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, based in Madison, Wis., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational charity, is the nation's largest association of freethinkers (atheists, agnostics), and has been working since 1978 to keep religion and government separate.

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

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