Announcing 2014 Michael Hakeem Memorial Award college essay winners

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has awarded and sincerely congratulates the 21 currently enrolled college student winners in its annual essay competition. Currently enrolled college students were asked to write about the topic, “My atheist/unbeliever ‘coming out’ story” in 700-900 words. There were eight winners in the top six, with ties for fifth and sixth places. FFRF also awarded 13 “honorable mentions” this year.

The late Professor Michael Hakeem, a sociologist, was an FFRF officer and active atheist known by generations of University of Wisconsin-Madison students, whose bequest endows the college essay competition.

  • First Place ($3000): Bijan Parandeh, University of Illinois-Chicago
  • Second Place ($2000): David Andexler, Duquesne University
  • Third Place ($1000): Reem Abdel-Razek, Onondaga Community College
  • Fourth Place ($750): Audrey Gunn, Concordia College
  • Fifth Place: ($500): Marcus Andrews, Ohio State University
  • Fifth Place: ($500): Keith Greer Milburn, University of Memphis
  • Sixth Place: ($400): Aaron McLaughlin, University of Iowa
  • Sixth Place: ($400): Anvita Patwardhan, University of California – Berkeley

Honorable mentions each receiving $200 are:

  • Nathan Hume Stevens, University of Oregon Eugene
  • Chris Holder, Unviersity of Montevallo
  • Joe Magestro, University of Wisconsin – Whitewater
  • Marina Esposito, Grand Canyon University
  • Jennifer Wilson, St. Olaf College
  • Eric Duran, University of North Texas
  • Jessie Warme, College of the Canyons & University of California San Diego
  • Harrison Slater, Pennsylvania State University
  • Benjamin Carton, Lesley University
  • Jenny Cox, Cosumnes River College & California Polytechnic State University – San Luis Obispo
  • Alexander Andruzzi, University of British Columbia
  • Blake Allen, Louisiana State University
  • Anna Bridge, South Dakota State University

“We consider our student scholarships as among FFRF’s most important endeavors and outreach to the next generation of freethinkers,” said FFRF Co-President Dan Barker. “All too many scholarship programs reward orthodoxy, but FFRF rewards students for critical thinking, and for being willing to make known their dissent from religion.”

FFRF earlier this summer awarded $10,250, to a total of 16 college-bound high school graduates. Next to be announced: FFRF’s annual essay contest for graduate/older students. The top winning college essays will appear in the October issue of Freethought Today, FFRF’s newspaper, and honorable mentions will run in future issues.

FFRF would also like to extend a special thanks to Dorea and Dean Schramm in Florida for providing each student who is a member of a secular campus group with a $100 bonus. The total of $12,550 in awards reflects the additional $100 bonuses.

Check back in February 2015 for the guidelines to next year’s essay contest.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

Send this to a friend