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FFRF awards $18,050 to 2023 grad student/older student essay contest winners

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is proud to announce the 10 top winners and eight honorable mentions in the 2023 Cornelius Vander Broek Grad/“Older” Student Essay Competition.

FFRF has paid out a total of $18,050 in award money for this contest. Students were asked to write on the topic of “Is secularism the ‘savior’ of American democracy?”

The winners, their ages, the colleges or universities they are attending and the award amount are listed below.

FIRST PLACE
Sung Bin Roh, 24, University of Vermont Larner College of Medicine, $3,500.
SECOND PLACE
Sam McCullough, 25, University of Washington’s Information School, $3,000.
THIRD PLACE
Shea Dunlop, 24, Pace University, $2,500.
FOURTH PLACE
Stephanie Zamarripa, 27, Harvard Divinity School, $2,000.
FIFTH PLACE
Sukhvir Singh, 25, Rutgers Law School, $1,500.
SIXTH PLACE (tie)
Katelyn Grant, 23, La Roche University, $1,000.
Jacob Jackson, 27, Blinn College, $1,000.
SEVENTH PLACE
Marah Sabbah, 23, UCLA, $750.
EIGHTH PLACE
William Rabbermann, 23, Missouri University of Science and Technology, $500.
NINTH PLACE
Zachary Mota, 29, Case Western Reserve University, $400.
TENTH PLACE
Ryan Slaughter, 24, Texas A&M University, Bush School, $300.

HONORABLE MENTIONS ($200 each)
Jesse Chen, 30, Wayne State University.
Anthony Corbo, 29, Florida Atlantic University.
Dylan Custer, 26, Daytona State College.
Karla Goodwin, 29, Southern New Hampshire University.
Alexia Shand, 28, Borough of Manhattan Community College.
Zoe Sirotiak, 26, Iowa State University.
Bo Thompson, 28, Sonoma State.
Sabrina Whitney, 26, California State University, Sacramento.

FFRF thanks Lisa Treu for managing the details of this and FFRF’s other student essays competitions. And we couldn’t judge these contests without our volunteer and staff judges, including: Don Ardell, Dan Barker, David Chivers, Jon S. Galehouse, Annie Laurie Gaylor, Russell Gibson, Ricki Grunberg, Tim Hatcher, Linda Josheff, Dan Kettner, Brianna Knoppow, Sammi Lawrence, Gloria Marquardt, Chris O’Connell, Andrea Osburne, JoAnn Papich, Sue Schuetz, Rose Mary Sheldon, PJ Slinger and Chance Wimberly.

FFRF has offered essay competitions to college students since 1979, high school students since 1994, grad students since 2010, one for students of color since 2016 and a fifth contest for law students since 2019.

“These students are making strides to be future leaders of the secular movement,” says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “Elevating their voices will spotlight how younger generations are speaking up against Christian nationalism.”

More detailed bios and short essays by the winning students will appear in the upcoming December issue of Freethought Today, FFRF’s lively 24-page (almost) monthly newspaper.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national nonprofit organization with more than 40,000 members across the country. FFRF protects the constitutional separation between state and church and educates about nontheism.

If you are an FFRF member, sign into your account here and then update your email subscriptions here.

To become an FFRF member, click here. To learn more about FFRF, request information here.

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