FFRF Student Scholarship Essay Contests

FFRF sponsors four essay competitions for students. All four FFRF essay contests offer the same awards:

First Place: $3,000
Second Place: $2,000
Third Place: $1,000
Fourth Place: $750
Fifth Place: $600
Sixth Place: $500
Seventh Place: $400
Optional Honorable Mention(s): $200

Thank you acknowledgment: Winners, in addition to their scholarship, will receive a school-year membership in FFRF. That includes a subscription to Freethought Today, FFRF's newspaper published 10 times a year, which will publish winning essays. All other eligible entrants will be offered the choice of a student FFRF membership and Freethought Today subscription, or a freethought book or product.

William J. Schulz High School Essay Competition

Closed for the year, please check back in Spring of 2019.


The Freedom From Religion Foundation is proud to announce the 24 winners — including 10 major prizes — of the 2018 William Schulz High School Essay Contest for college-bound seniors. Winners are listed below with their age, the college or university they will be attending, and the award amount. FFRF has paid out a total of $13,000 in award money for this contest this year.

First place
Anh Quoc Nguyen, 18, University of Texas ($3,000)

Second place
Sarah Almstrom, 18, University of Massachusetts ($2,000)

Third place
Andreanna Papatheodorou, 18, Bryn Mawr College ($1,000)

Fourth place (tie)
Mackenzie Brown, 17, Arizona State University ($750)
Aisha Galdo, 17, University of Florida ($750)

Fifth place (tie)
Matthew Bergosh, 18, ($600)
Sam Mathisson, 18, University of Michigan ($600)

Sixth place (tie)
Trevor Jansen, 18, University of Maryland, Baltimore County ($500)
Alden Lecroy, 18, Clemson University ($500)

Seventh place
Ariana Menjivar, 18, Montgomery College ($400)

Honorable mentions ($200 each)

  • Fatima Bartel, 18, Ramapo College
  • Nick Bellizzi, 18, University of Illinois
  • Meghan Cashell, 17, University of Missouri
  • Haidee Clauer, 18, Pomona College
  • Amber Cocchiola, 18, Kent State University
  • Amber Fehrs, 18, Brown University
  • Kenneth Gonzalez Santibanez, 17, Princeton University
  • Mitchell Griffin, 18, University of Iowa
  • Damon W. Jordan, 17, Ohio State University
  • Maddy Malik, 18, Vanderbilt University
  • Benjamin Manzo, 18, Ashland University
  • Haven Morris, 17, Armed Forces in Germany
  • Jonathan Obeda, 18, University of California-Riverside
  • John West, 18, University of Minnesota


David Hudak Memorial Freethinking Students of Color High School Essay Competition


The Freedom From Religion Foundation is proud to announce the 15 winners of the 2018 David Hudak Memorial Students of Color Essay Competition for College Students. FFRF has paid out a total of $10,550 in award money for this year’s contest.

First place
MiKaelah Freeman, 18, New York University ($3,000), who wrote about “Black Plague: The Role of Christianity in Slavery and How it Plagues African Americans Today.”

Second place
Michael Brown, 24, Dartmouth College ($2,000), whose essay was titled, “Free of Thought, But Not Free of Color.”

Third place
Noemi Rosario, 18, University at Albany (SUNY) ($1,000), whose essay was titled “Place Your Bet.”

Fourth place
Johann Rucker, 22, University of Nevada-Las Vegas ($750), who wrote an essay called “Thank You, Tio Carlos.”

Fifth place
Alondra Vega Rivera, 18, Escuela de Artes Plasticas y Diseno de Puerto Rico ($600), who wrote as a “Spanish-Speaking Heathen.”

Sixth place
Azarius Williams, 20, Syracuse University ($500), who wrote on “My Journey to Secularism.”

Seventh place
Jesica Maldonado Matias, 18, San Francisco State University ($400), whose essay was called “The God That Failed Me.”

Honorable mentions ($200 each):

  • Joseph Florida, 21, Southern University A&M College, who wrote about “My Experience as a Skeptic of Color.”
  • Anissa Foster, 18, Stanford University, whose essay was titled, “Dangerous Woman.”
  • Kelvin Martinez Gomez, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute ($100 bonus), who wrote on “How Do You Say Atheist in Spanish?”
  • Alexandra Harmon,19, Howard University, whose essay was called “A Wolf in Black Sheep’s Clothing.”
  • Shejan Heaven, 19, University of Georgia, who wrote about “Discovering the Unknown.”
  • Evan Malcolm, 21, University of South Florida, who wrote about “A Matter of Perception.”
  • Tatem Rios, 18, Inver Hills Community College, who wrote about “The Challenge of Being a Freethinker in This Society.”
  • Therrin Wilson, 21, University of Tennessee, who wrote about “False Prophets.”



Michael Hakeem Memorial College Essay Competition

1College Essay Winners2018

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is proud to announce the 18 winners of the 2018 Michael Hakeem Memorial College Essay Contest. FFRF has paid out a total of $12,750 in award money for this contest this year.

First place
Matthew McFadden, 19, UCLA ($3,000)
Second place (tie)
Alex Kellogg, 22, University of North Carolina ($2,000)
Second place (tie)
Mike Meo, 19, Portland State University ($2,000) 
Third place
Emily Mickel, 20, Cornell University ($1,000)
Fourth place
Rachel Bellflowers, 19, Appalachian State University ($750) 
Fifth place
Samuel Hagen,  22, Harvard University ($600)
Sixth place
Niamh Falter, 24, Savannah College of Art and Design ($500)
Seventh place (tie)
Emma Rosen, 24, LIU Global ($400)
Seventh place (tie)
Truth Muller, 18, College of the Atlantic ($400)

Major winners are pictured above.

Honorable mentions ($200 each)
Edon Ademaj, Texas Wesleyan University
Samantha Jones, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Ashley Levy, Oglethorpe University
Parker Maris, University of Calgary
Blake T. Miller, IUPUI
William Napp, Grand Valley State University
Julianna Schoenwald, Grand Rapids Community College
Lydia Taylor, University of Denver
Cameron Zahner, Harvard University


1BrianboltonBrian Bolton Graduate/"Older" Student Essay Contest

THIS YEAR'S TOPIC: The Dangers of Bibliolatry in the United States

PROMPT: Biblioatry is defined as "worship of the bible." What are the dangers of basing social policy or laws on the bible? Why do biblical teachings make bad public policy? Marshall evidence, topical and/or historical, which shows the harm or threat of unquestioned respect for the bible by Americans, including public officials. You may wish to analyze the flurry of state bills being introduced to encourage or require bible instruction in public schools or promote the Ten Commandments, or resolutions declaring "the year of the bible" or otherwise showing governmental preference for the bible. You may wish to focus on one or two specific threats, for example problematic bible verses affecting women's or LGBTQ rights, science, children's health, etc. Include your personal thoughts about the bible and what you think can be done about its undue influence.

WORD LENGTH: 550 - 750 words

ELIGIBILITY: Open to any graduate students through the age 30, or to undergraduate students ages 25-30 who attend a North American college or university. You remain eligible to enter this contest if you will graduate by spring or summer 2018.

DEADLINE:  Fill out application and submit your essay no later than midnight, August 1, 2018.


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