FFRF Student Scholarship Essay Contests

William J. Schulz High School Essay Contest

First Place William J. Schulz Memorial Award: $3,000
Second Place: $2,000
Third Place: $1,000
Fourth Place: $750
Fifth Place: $500
Sixth Place: $400
Optional Honorable Mention(s): $200

2016 William J. Schulz High School Essay winners

The Freedom From Religion Foundation congratulates the 16 college-bound high school seniors who won this year's essay competition.

FFRF has offered essay competitions to college students since 1979, high school students since 1994 and graduate students since 2010.

Seniors were asked to pick from two topics: "The challenges of growing up a freethinker," or "Why Boy Scouts of America should welcome atheists and nonbelievers."

After carefully reviewing 140 submissions, FFRF awarded seven top prizes (including a tie for sixth place) and nine honorable mentions.

"FFRF is proud to offer these scholarships to deserving freethinking students," FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor said. "We are glad to support them as they head off to college and begin this new chapter in their lives."

Winners are listed below and include the award amount and the college or university they will be attending this fall.

First place
Avery Boltwood, Duke University ($3,000)

Second place
Mahad Olad, Ithaca College ($2,000)

Third place
Mary Breeden, Illinois Wesleyan University ($1,000)

Fourth place
Kaylor MacLaughlin, Oregon State University Honors College ($750)

Fifth place
Bethany Wasilik, College of William and Mary ($500)

Sixth place (tie)
Erin McCoskey, Wichita State University ($400)

Sixth place (tie)
Elizabeth Robbins, Tisch School of Arts ($400)

Honorable mentions ($200 each)

  • Niha Ahmad, University of Illinois-Chicago
  • Christian Beveridge, University of Pittsburgh
  • Kristian Harrell, Missouri Southern State University
  • Matthew Joy, Chapman University
  • Alexandra Lauria-Daley, Northeastern University
  • Brody McNutt, Dartmouth College
  • Noelle Shaw, San Diego State University
  • Kayla Spitzer, Northwest Arkansas Community College
  • Conrad Wright, California Polytechnic State University

The high school contest is named for William J. Schulz, a Wisconsin member who died at 57. He was a mechanical engineer and cared deeply about FFRF's work, leaving a bequest that funds the awards.

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 $9,950 reflects bonuses.

The college student essay winners will be announced in the September issue and the grad student essay winners will be announced in the October issue.

This contest is now closed for entries. Please return next spring for FFRF's 2017 essay prompts. 


 

Michael Hakeem Memorial College Essay Contest

For College Students Under Age 25

First Place: Michael Hakeem Memorial Award: $3,000
Second Place: $2,000
Third Place: $1,000
Fourth Place: $750
Fifth Place: $500
Sixth Place: $400
Optional Honorable Mention(s): $200

2016 Michael Hakeem Memorial College Essay for Freethought Students of Color winners

More contest winners coming soon!

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is proud to announce the 10 winners of the 2016 Michael Hakeem Memorial College Essay Contest for people of color.

Essayists were asked to write a personal persuasive essay about why they are nonbelievers and their experiences as young nonbelievers of color.

Winners are listed below and include the award amount and the college or university they are attending. FFRF has paid out a total of $8,750 in award money for this contest.

First place
Nadia Duncan, SUNY Purchase College ($3,000)

Second place
Anuj Krishnamurthy, Brown University ($2,000)

Third place
Bahram Sherwani, San Francisco State University ($1,000)

Fourth place
Jonathan Azpeitia, Pomona College ($750)

Fifth place (tie)
Kamerin Winston, Spelman College ($500)

Fifth place (tie)
Tyneshia Griffin, Virginia Tech University ($500)

Sixth place
Benjamin Duru, California University-Long Beach ($400)

Honorable mentions ($200 each)

  • Ana Almeida-Rojo, Oglethorpe University
  • Taylor Johnson, SUNY at Purchase
  • Alexandra Lewis, East Carolina University

FFRF has offered essay competitions to college students since 1979.

"It's a myth that most African-Americans, Latinos or Hispanic-Americans are uniformly religious," says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. "FFRF wants to showcase diversity and reward minorities in the freethought movement who are especially courageous in 'coming out of the closet.'"

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.

This contest is now closed for entries. Please return next spring for FFRF's 2017 essay prompts.


 

Brian Bolton Graduate Student/Older Student Essay Contest

For Graduate Students to Age 30 or any Student Age 25 to 30

First Place Brian Bolton Memorial Award: $3,000
Second Place: $2,000
Third Place: $1,000
Fourth Place: $750
Fifth Place: $500
Sixth Place: $400
Optional Honorable Mention(s): $200

Check back soon to view our 2016 Graduate/Older Student essay winners! 

 

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