The Freedom From Religion Foundation is gladly awarding tens of thousands of dollars to this year’s winners of its Black, Indigenous and Persons of Color student essay contest.
The freethought association is proudly announcing the 13 winners and 11 honorable mentions of the 2021 David Hudak Memorial Black, Indigenous and Persons of Color Student Essay Competition. The students were asked to write a personal persuasive essay explaining “What I would tell my family or friends about my atheism or nonbelief.” FFRF has paid out a total of $22,900 in award money for this contest this year.
“The quality of the essays this year was one of the best in memory — a range of anger, poignant and persuasive,” says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “It was a pleasure reading these, and we congratulate the young and impressive winners.”
Winners are listed below and include the award amount and the college or university they will be attending.
Galilea Baca, 18, Collin Community College, $3,500.
Shreyas Karki, 21, Rice University, $3,000.
THIRD PLACE (tie)
Everett Viego, 20, University of Texas, $2,500.
Fadima Tall, 20, Rollins College, $2,500.
FOURTH PLACE (tie)
Tylinn Wilson, 19, Wichita State University, $2,000.
Philip Haynie, 18, Hampton University, $2,000.
Davina Boison, 19, University of North Carolina, $1,500.
Alina Sokolova, 19, Concordia College, $1,000.
SEVENTH PLACE (tie)
Jade Garza, 18, University of Texas – San Antonio, $750.
S.K., 19, University redacted, $750.
Scarly Michelle Benitez-Carbajal, 19, New York University, $500.
Luca Ng, 20, Iowa State University, $400.
Anqi Qu, 20, University of Chicago, $300.
HONORABLE MENTIONS ($200 each)
Caitlin Guidry, 19, Houston Community College.
Angie Hayes, 18, University of Nevada-Las Vegas.
Grecia Hingst, 22, Loyola University New Orleans.
Jaromir Sashi, 18, University of Houston.
Daphne Moon, 18, Art Institute of Chicago.
Christopher Nava, 19, University of California-Irvine.
Suly Ramirez, 20, University of Texas.
Aerahan Skanthakumar, 18, University of Illinois.
Cole Songster, 19, Knox College.
Joanna Tapia, 21, Bradley University.
Nadiyah Williams, 19, Georgia Institute of Technology.
FFRF thanks “Director of First Impressions” Lisa Treu for managing the details of this competition and FFRF’s other student essays. It would also like to thank its “faithful faithless” volunteer and staff readers and judges, including Don Ardell, Dan Barker, Bill Dunn, Annie Laurie Gaylor, Linda Josheff, Dan Kettner, Sammi Lawrence, Katya Maes, Gloria Marquardt, Amit Pal, Dave Petrashek, Sue Schuetz, PJ Slinger, Mandisa Thomas, David Tamayo, Karen Lee Weidig, Jenny Wilson and Casandra Zimmerman.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation has offered essay competitions to college students since 1979, high school students since 1994, graduate students since 2010, a contest geared directly specifically to students of color since 2017 and a fifth contest for law students since 2019.