Student Essay Scholarships

Student Essay Scholarships (5)

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2012 Student Essay Contest

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FFRF Brian Bolton Graduate/Mature Student Essay Contest for Grad Students and Students Age 25 and Older

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has awarded graduate students (or any students 25 or older) $9,100 in this year's essay competition. Students were asked to describe "Why God and Government Are a Dangerous Mix – Especially in an Election Year," in 850-1,000 words. There were six major winners with a tie for fourth place, plus seven honorable mentions. The winners are: 

  • First place ($3,000): Elizabeth Pipal, Harvard Graduate School of Design.
  • Second place ($2,000): Wilson Melón, Purdue University.
  • Third place ($1,000): Lynn Wilhelm, North Carolina State University.
  • Fourth place ($500): Bryan Johnson, Colorado State University.
  • Fourth place ($500): Vicky Weber, Colorado State University.
  • Fifth place ($300): Jemille Bailey, Columbia University.
  • Honorable Mention ($200): Anastassia Smorodinskaya, Columbia University.
  • Honorable Mention ($200): Antwon Kennedy, Kennesaw State University.
  • Honorable Mention ($200): Ashley Miller, University of South Carolina.
  • Honorable Mention ($200): Justin Vacula, Marywood University.
  • Honorable Mention ($200): Kristina Beverlin, University of Kansas.
  • Honorable Mention ($200): Maria Rodriguez, University of Connecticut School of Law.
  • Honorable Mention ($200): Wanda Thompson, Western Governor’s University.

The awards are made possible by the generosity of FFRF Lifetime Member Brian Bolton, a retired psychologist, humanist minister and university professor emeritus at the University of Arkansas. FFRF would also like to extend a warm thank you to FFRF members Dean and Dorea Schramm for providing the honorable mention awardees with a $50 bonus.


FFRF Michael Hakeem Memorial College Essay Contest

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has awarded $7,800 to 10 college students in this year's essay competition. Students were asked to describe "Why I am an out of the closet atheist (freethinker)," in 750-900 words. There were five major winners, plus five honorable mentions. The top five essays can be found on pages 12-14 of the September issue of Freethought Today. The winners are: 

  • First place ($3,000): Laila Shalikar, University of California at Berkeley.
  • Second place ($2,000): Savannah Roland, College of Charleston.
  • Third place ($1,000): Casimir Klim, Columbia University.
  • Fourth place ($500): Anna Biela, Purdue University.
  • Fifth place ($300): Eric Ouellet, Carleton University.
  • Honorable Mention ($200): Kate Heetland, University of Northern Iowa.
  • Honorable Mention ($200): Leah Aeby, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.
  • Honorable Mention ($200): Lukas Deem, University of Central Arkansas.
  • Honorable Mention ($200): Michaelyn Everhart, University of Kansas.
  • Honorable Mention ($200): Omar De Los Santos, Yale University.

This year's awards were made possible by the Michael Hakeem Memorial, endowed by his bequest. Mr. Hakeem was a well-known sociology professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, an FFRF officer and active atheist. FFRF would also like to extend a special thank you to FFRF members Dean and Dorea Schramm for providing each student with a $50 bonus.


FFRF Herbert Bushong Annual Essay Contest for High School Seniors Who Are College-Bound in the Fall

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is pleased to announce the 2012 Herbert Bushong High School Essay Award Winners. FFRF has awarded $11,250 to 13 college-bound high school seniors in this year's essay competition. Seniors were asked to "describe a moment when they stood up for Freethought and/or that made them proud to be a freethinker," in 500-700 words. There were seven winners in the top five, with two ties for fourth and fifth place, plus six honorable mentions. Their essays can be found on pages 11-15 in the August Freethought Today. The winners are: 

  • First place ($3,000): Jordan Halpern, University of California-Davis. 
  • Second place ($2,000): Danielle Kelly, University of Montana in Missoula. 
  • Third place ($1,000): Joseph Price, UCLA. 
  • Fourth place tie ($500): Nicole Schreiber, New York University. 
  • Fourth place tie ($500): Sarah Hedge, Northwestern. 
  • Fifth place tie ($300): Rebecca Ratero, Rutgers. 
  • Fifth place tie ($300): Samantha Biatch, Smith College. 
  • Honorable Mention ($200): Abigail Dove, Swarthmore College. 
  • Honorable Mention ($200): Amedee Martella, University of Colorado-Boulder. 
  • Honorable Mention ($200): Cheyenne Tessier, The George Washington University (Cheyenne will defer her university enrollment for a year to do humanitarian service in Senegal with Global Citizen).
  • Honorable Mention ($200): Jarrett Browne, Wright State University. 
  • Honorable Mention ($200): Kaitlin Holden, Winthrop University. 
  • Honorable Mention ($200): Zach Gowan, USC Upstate. 

Nonagenarian Herbert "Harry" Bushong has endowed this year's contest. FFRF would also like to extend a special thank you to FFRF member John Moe for endowing the honorable mention awards of $200 and FFRF members Dean and Dorea Schramm for providing each student with a $50 bonus.

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FFRF Student Scholarship Essay Contests

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FFRF sponsors four essay competitions for students. Please check back by the end of February 2018 for requirements for the 2018 FFRF essay contests. Applications are now all on-line. 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: $500
Sixth 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

Check back in Spring of 2018 for future prompts! Read the winning essays in the September 2017 issue of Freethought Today.

Winners of the 2017 contest listed below and include the award amount and the college or university they will be attending.

First place
Zakaria Sharif, Stanford ($3,000)

Second place
Allison Wheeler, Centre College ($2,000)

Third place
Daniel Vogler, Princeton ($1,000)

Fourth place
Evan Muskopf, Rochester Institute of Technology ($750)

Fifth place
Ian Garvie, University of Northern British Columbia ($500)

Sixth place
Quinn Freidl, undeclared ($400)

Honorable mentions ($200 each)

  • Donald Fasce, Franklin and Marshall
  • Audrey Godwin, Vassar College
  • Phoebe Greene, Universoty of North Carolina-Wilmington
  • Alisha Griffin, Bucknell University
  • Hannah Hanson, Berklee College of Music
  • Alexander Hernandez, undeclared
  • Aya Keller, University of California-Berkeley
  • Luke Makram, University of Alabama-Huntsville
  • Lindsay Philcox, Brandeis University
  • Tori Roberts, California State University-Stanislaus

 

David Hudak Memorial Freethinking Students of Color High School Essay Competition

Check back in Spring of 2018 for future prompts! Read the winning essays in the August 2017 issue of Freethought Today.

The winners of the 2017 contest are listed below, with their age, the college or university they will be attending, the award amount and the title of their essay.

First place
Lydia Mason, 18, New York University ($3,000), "Breaking the Chains"

Second place
Uma Kokilepersaud, 17, University of Maryland ($2,000), "We Are Enough"

Third place
Lauren Greenlee, 18, University of San Francisco ($1,000), "I'm Alone in the Universe and That's Okay"

Fourth place
Lizeth Ortega-Luna, 18, Pomona College ($750), "In Whom Do I Trust?"

Fifth place
Celestina Garcia, 18, Indiana University ($500), "The Other Side of Morality"

Sixth place (tie)
Sarah Espada, 18, Cedar Crest College ($400), "What I'd Like Believers to Know"

Sixth place (tie)
Evann Bailey, 18, University of Tennessee-Chattanooga ($400), "Rejecting Generational Illusions"

Honorable mentions ($200 each)

  • Aven Turner, University of Illinois
  • Dominic Ryan Vince Cruz, Washington College
  • Adwoa Debrah, New York University
  • Shejan Heaven, University of Georgia
  • Miaun McCloud, Grand Valley State University
  • Erin O'Malley, University of Rochester
  • Dylan Palmer, New York University

 

mikehakeem

Michael Hakeem Memorial College Essay Competition

Check back in Spring of 2018 for future prompts! Read the winning essays in the October 2017 issue of Freethought Today.

Listed below are the winners of the 2017 contest, their ages, the award amount and the college or university they are attending.

First place
Max Stinson, 19, University of South Carolina Upstate ($3,000)

Second place
Jacey Anderson, 19, Washington State University ($2,000)

Third place
Jamie Moffa, 22, Washington University School of Medicine ($1,000)

Fourth place (tie)
Gabrielle Goldworm, 19, Seton Hall University ($750)

Fourth Place (tie)
Hampton Gibson, 21, University of Oklahoma ($750)

Fifth place
Violet Richardson, 22, University of Wisconsin ($500)

Sixth place
Kaylee Payne, 19, University of Virginia's College at Wise ($400)

Honorable mentions ($200 each)

  • Christopher Bednarcik, 19, North Central College
  • Michael Brown, 20, Dartmouth College
  • Catherine Evans, 20, James Madison University
  • Nicholas Giurleo, 20, Tufts University
  • Jordan Green, 20, University of Arizona
  • Melissa Juarez, 20, University of California-Fresno
  • Anne Mickey, 20, Arizona State University
  • Chenoa Off, 19, Russell Sage College
  • Mackenzie Schneider, 20, Smith College
  • Omolola Smith, 22, University of Vermont
  • Katelynn Thompson, 24, University of Georgia

 

1BrianboltonBrian Bolton Graduate/"Older" Student Essay Contest

Check back in Spring of 2018 for future prompts! Read the winning essays in the  November 2017 issue of Freethought Today.

Listed below are the winners of the 2017 contest, their ages, the award amount and the college or university they are attending.

First place
Alexander Reamy, 22, grad student at Arizona State University, pictured above ($3,000)

Second place
Isaac Haniff, 24, grad student at University of Illinois-Chicago ($2,000)

Third place
Jamie Pizzi, 25, grad student at Villanova University School of Law ($1,000)

Fourth place
Kelly O'Hay, 28, undergraduate at Alverno College ($750)

Fifth place
Michael Crawford, 22, grad student at Temple University ($500)

Sixth place
Ayoola White, 26, grad student at Simmons College ($400)

Honorable mentions ($200 each)

  • Peter Brown, 27, grad student at Columbia Business School
  • Jeffrey Fielder, 24, grad student at The Creative Circus
  • Sean Hansen, 26, undergraduate at Kettering University
  • Sarah Henry, 21, grad student at American University
  • Megan Oslund, 25, undergraduate at St. Catherine University
  • Jake Pierog, 27, undergraduate at University of Massachusetts-Boston
  • Alyssa Pires, 26, grad student at University of Arizona

 

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brianboltonFor Graduate Students to age 30 or Undergrads 25 to 30

First Place, Brian Bolton Award — $3,000


Second Place — $2,000


Third Place — $1,000


Fourth Place — $75o


Fifth Place — $500


Sixth Place — $400

Honorable Mention(s) — $200

“WHY 'RELIGIOUS LIBERTY' DOES NOT MEAN THE RIGHT TO IMPOSE YOUR RELIGION ON OTHERS”

Eligibility: Currently enrolled graduate student up to age 30, or undergrads ages 25-30, attending a North American college or university, including but not limited to someone graduating or earning a degree in Spring or Summer 2014.

Topic: Write a persuasive analysis of the newest danger to the Establishment Clause: The radical redefinition of “religious freedom” to include the right to impose one’s religious beliefs on others. Research and include at least some examples, such as religious litigants opposing Obamacare’s contraceptive mandate or states passing laws to allow businesses to decline services to same-sex couples based on religious objections, or other issues, such as statutes exempting faith-healing parents from prosecution. Or analyze what’s right or wrong with the Supreme Court’s ruling this summer in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby (in which a corporation claims its “religious beliefs” are violated by permitting employees to exercise their own freedom of conscience).

Length: 750 to 1,000 words. Include word count. Submit typed, double-spaced essay with standard margins.

Other Requirements: Choose own title. Do not include resumé. Please staple and place your name and essay title on each page. Include a separate paragraph identifying your age, birthdate, hometown, college or university, year in school or degree being earned, previous degree(s) earned, major and interests. Include your name, mailing address, phone number(s), and e-mail address. Winners may be asked to send verification of student enrollment. Essay must be submitted both by mail and e-mail by deadline (see below). 

Dean & Dorea Schramm, FFRF members, are offering a $100 bonus to any student winner who is a member of FFRF, a secular student club or the Secular Student Alliance, at the time the essay is submitted. Join SSA free online at: www.secularstudents.org, under donate. To be eligible for the bonus, be sure to specify in your bio whether you belong to FFRF, a secular student club (please name) or have joined SSA online.

By entering contest, students agree to have winning essays printed in full or in part in Freethought Today, FFRF’s newspaper, and later posted online at FFRF’s website. Winners agree to promptly provide a photograph suitable for reproduction with their essay. Winners will receive a school-year subscription to Freethought Today. All eligible non-winning students will be offered a subscription or a freethought book. Note: FFRF monitors for plagiarism.

Deadline: Postmarked no later than July 15, 2014. Winners announced in September. Mailing specifications: Send both by email and mail, no later than July 15, 2014. Email your essay no later than midnight, July 15, 2014, to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Use the word “essay” and your first and last name in the subject heading. Example: Essay: (Your full name). Also mail (postmarked by July 15, 2014) to:

Graduate/Older Student Essay Competition

FFRF

PO Box 750

Madison WI 53701

The competition is generously endowed by Brian Bolton, an FFRF Lifetime Member who is a retired psychologist, humanist minister and university professor emeritus at the University of Arkansas.

mikehakeem35th Annual College Student Essay Contest (2014)

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FOR Currently enrolled COLLEGE STUDENTS UNDER AGE 25

First Place, Michael Hakeem Memorial Award — $3,000


Second Place — $2,000


Third Place — $1,000


Fourth Place — $75o


Fifth Place — $500


Sixth Place — $400

Honorable Mention(s) — $200

“My atheist/unbeliever 'coming out' story”

Eligibility: Currently-enrolled college student under age 25, currently attending a North American college or university at least through spring or summer 2014. (Undergraduates over age 25: please enter the FFRF Graduate/Older Student Essay Competition. College-bound high school seniors enter FFRF High School Contest.)

Topic: Use a personal (first-person) approach about how and why you came out as a nonbeliever (freethinker, atheist, agnostic, skeptic). Include some intellectual analysis of why you reject religion. If you grew up without religion, you may wish to describe your experiences being open as an atheist or nonbeliever with religious classmates or society. If raised with religion, tell us how and why you thought your way out of religion. You may wish to include experiences with activism.  

Length: 700 to 900 words. Include word count. Submit typed, double-spaced essay with standard margins.

Other Requirements: Choose your own title. Do not include a resume. Please staple. Place your name and essay title on each page. Include a separate paragraph identifying your age and birthdate, hometown, college or university, year in school or degree being earned, major and interests. Include your name, mailing address, contact phone number(s), and email address. Winners may be asked to send verification of student enrollment. Essay must be submitted both by mail and e-mail by deadline (see below). 

Dean & Dorea Schramm, FFRF members, are offering a $100 bonus to any student winner who is a member of FFRF, a secular student club or the Secular Student Alliance, at the time the essay is submitted. Join SSA free online at: www.secularstudents.org, under donate. To be eligible for the bonus, be sure to specify in your bio whether you belong to FFRF, a secular student club (please name) or have joined SSA online.

By entering contest, students agree to have winning essays printed in full or in part in Freethought Today, FFRF’s newspaper, and later posted online at FFRF’s website. Winners agree to promptly provide a photograph suitable for reproduction with their essay. Winners will receive a school-year subscription to Freethought Today. All eligible non-winning students will be offered a subscription or a freethought book. Note: FFRF monitors for plagiarism.

Deadline: Postmarked no later than June 15, 2014. Winners will be announced in September.

Mailing specifications: Send both by email (see below) and mail. Email your essay no later than midnight, June 15, 2014, to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Use the word “essay” and your first and last name in the subject heading. Example: Essay: (Your full name). Please include a copy of everything indicated in requirements. Also mail postmarked no later than June 15, 2014, to:

College Essay Competition

FFRF

PO Box 750

Madison WI 53701

About Michael Hakeem: Prof. Hakeem, a sociologist, was an FFRF officer and active atheist known by generations of University of Wisconsin-Madison students for fine-tuning their reasoning abilities.

20th Annual High School Seniors Essay Contest 2014

Send both by email and mail, no later than June 1, 2014. Email your essay no later than midnight, June 1, 2014, to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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FOR COLLEGE-BOUND HIGH SCHOOL SENIORS

First Place: William J. Schulz Memorial Award — $3,000


Second Place — $2,000


Third Place — $1,000


Fourth Place — $75o


Fifth Place — $500


Sixth Place — $400

Honorable Mention(s) — $200

DESCRIBE "A MOMENT WHEN YOU STOOD UP FOR FREETHOUGHT/SECULARISM" 

Eligibility: North American high school senior who graduates in spring 2014, going to college in fall 2014.

Topic: Write from a personal perspective about your activism or include memorable challenges you’ve faced as a nonbelieving teenager, in your family, your high school or community. Explain how and why you’ve spoken up for freethought and/or secular government in the classroom, at school events, in government or your personal life. Include at least some intellectual analysis of what led you to reject religion and/or why you care about keeping religion out of public schools/ government.

Length: 500 to 700 words. Include word count. Submit typed, double-spaced essay with standard margins.

Other Requirements: Choose your own title. Do not include a resumé. Please staple. Place your name and essay title on each page. Include a separate paragraph identifying your age, birthdate, hometown, the college or university you will be attending in the fall, intended major and interests or high school achievements. Include your name, mailing address, phone number(s), and e-mail address. Winners may be asked to send verification of student enrollment. Essay must be submitted both by mail and e-mail by deadline (see below). 

Dean & Dorea Schramm, FFRF members, are offering a $100 bonus to any student winner who is a member of FFRF, a secular student club or the Secular Student Alliance, at the time the essay is submitted. Join SSA free online at: www.secularstudents.org, under donate. To be eligible for the bonus, be sure to specify in your bio whether you belong to FFRF, a secular student club (please name) or have joined SSA online.

By entering contest, you agree to have winning essays printed in full or in part in Freethought Today, FFRF’s newspaper, and later posted online at FFRF’s website. Winners agree to promptly provide a photograph suitable for reproduction with their essay. Winners will receive a school-year subscription to Freethought Today. All eligible non-winning students will be offered a subscription or a freethought book. Note: FFRF monitors for plagiarism.

Deadline: Postmarked no later than June 1, 2014. Winners announced in August.

Mailing specifications: Send both by email and mail, no later than June 1, 2014. Email your essay no later than midnight, June 1, 2014, to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Use the word “essay” and your first and last name in the subject heading. Example: Essay: (Your full name). Also mail, postmarked no later than June 1, 2014 to:

High School Essay Contest

FFRF

PO Box 750

Madison WI 53701

About William J. Schulz: This competition is endowed by William J. Schulz, a member of FFRF who died at 57, was a farm boy who became a chemical engineer and built paper-producing mills around the world. He cared deeply about FFRF’s work.

FFRF is a non-profit, educational organization. All dues and donations are deductible for income-tax purposes.

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