FFRF announces 2016 college essay contest winners

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is delighted to announce the 2016 Michael Hakeem Memorial College Essay Contest winners.

The list of awardees has seven top places and 13 honorable mentions from colleges located all over the country. Students were asked to write 700 to 900 words on the topic of “Why I am a freethinker.” FFRF, an educational state/church watchdog with 24,000 members nationwide, has offered essay competitions to college students since 1979, high school students since 1994 and graduate students since 2010.

The winners of the competition are listed below and include the award amount, age and college or university they are attending.

Adam Simmons, 19, Freshman at University of Tennessee – Knoxville ($3,000)

Alex Reamy, 21, Senior at Arizona State University – Tempe Campus ($2,100)

Katherine Gramling, 19, Sophomore at University of Minnesota – Twin Cities ($1,100)

Leah Kennedy, 22, First year graduate student at New York University ($750)

Karl Yee, 19, Junior at University of Maryland – College Park ($500)

Elias Rodriguez, 22, Senior at University of Texas – Dallas ($500)

Adrick Tench, 21, Sophomore at Northwestern University ($400)

($200 each) ($300 with Secular Student Alliance bonus)

Cheyenne Barger, 19, Sophomore at Gannon University ($300)
Savannah Flusche, 23, Junior at Texas Woman’s University of Denton ($300)
William Gardner, 24, Sophomore at University of Delaware
Syd Gettier, 21, Junior at Notre Dame of Maryland University
James Harder, 23, Athabasca University
Camille Kaiser, 19, Sophomore at University of New Mexico ($300)
Jonathan Ortiz, 18, University of Florida
Fallon Rowe, 19, Junior at Utah State University ($300)
Aiden Sorge, 20, Junior at Arizona State University – Tempe Campus ($300)
Elizabeth Turovsky, 19, Sophomore at Barnard College
Manon von Mil, 24, Senior at Queen’s University
Camille Sanchez, 19, Sophomore at Pomona College
Alexis Serra, 20, Drexel University

The winning essays for the college contest will appear in a future issue of Freethought Today. Next to be announced will be the winners of FFRF’s graduate student essay competition.

The college contest is named for the late Michael Hakeem, a sociology professor who was an FFRF officer and active atheist known by generations of University of Wisconsin-Madison students for fine-tuning their reasoning abilities. FFRF also thanks Dean and Dorea Schramm of Florida for providing a $100 bonus to students who are members of a secular student club or the Secular Student Alliance. The total of $11,450 reflects bonuses.

FFRF congratulates the 20 college students who won this year’s essay competition and wishes them all the best for their future endeavors.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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