The Freedom From Religion Foundation sincerely congratulates the 16 college-bound high school seniors who won this year's FFRF essay competition. FFRF, an educational state/church watchdog that has more than 21,000 members nationwide, has offered essay competitions to college students since 1979, high school students since 1994 and graduate students since 2010.
Seniors were asked to describe “A moment when you stood up for freethought/secularism” in 500-700 words. There were six top awards, and 10 honorable mentions awarded this year.
The winners are listed below, including the college or university they’ll be attending in the fall.
First Place: Delaney Gold-Diamond, 18, University of Chicago ($3,000)
Second Place: Julianna Evans, 18, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University ($2,000)
Third Place: Philip Kaltman, 17, Georgia Institute of Technology ($1,000)
Fourth Place: Harrison Horwitz, 17, University of California-Berkeley ($750)
Fifth Place: Kali Richardson, 18, University of Arizona ($500)
Sixth Place: Fallon Rowe, 17, Utah State University ($400)
Honorable Mentions each ($200):
Adam Bivens, 18, Pennsylvania State University
Erin Camia, 18, Case Western Reserve University (Ohio)
Aífe Ní Chochlain, 18, University of Pittsburgh
Jayne M. Cosh, 18, State University of New York at New Paltz
Sam Davidson, 18, Northwestern University
Alida Markgraf, 18, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
Ryan Muskopf, 17, Rochester Institute of Technology (N.Y.)
Travis Northern, 17, University of Wisconsin-Parkside
Pranit Singh, 18, Creighton University (Neb.)
Tara Thankachan, 18, University of Texas at Austin
"We consider our scholarships for freethinking students to be among FFRF's most important investments in the future of freethought,” said FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. "There are thousands of scholarships for religious students, and hardly any rewarding critical thinking and the use of reason in forming an opinion about religion."
The winning essays will appear in the September issue of Freethought Today, FFRF's newspaper.
Soon to be announced: FFRF's selection of winners of its college essay competition and its graduate student essay competition.
The high school contest is named for William J. Schultz, a Wisconsin member who died at 57, was a chemical engineer and cared deeply about FFRF’s work. FFRF also thanks Dean and Dorea Schramm in Florida for providing a $100 bonus to winning students who are members of a secular student club or the Secular Student Alliance. The total of $10,250 reflects bonuses.