Student Essay Scholarships

Student Essay Scholarships (5)

%942 %America/Chicago, %2013

2012 Student Essay Contest

Written by

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.

%250 %America/Chicago, %2012

FFRF Student Scholarship Essay Contests

Written by

William J. Schulz High School Essay Contest

For College-Bound High School Seniors

First place: William J. Schultz 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

Eligibility: North American high school seniors who graduate in spring 2015, college-bound in fall 2015.

Choose one of the topics below:

  • Atheist/nonbeliever of color prompt: Write from personal perspective about experiences or challenges you face, as a nonbeliever in a religious family or community, and minority within the freethought community. Are there obstacles discouraging diversity within the movement? What do you think could be done to make freethought and nonbelief more attractive to America's nonwhite communities? Include at least one paragraph about why you are a nonbeliever.
  • Why I'm good without God prompt: Write from personal perspective about your experiences or challenges in the face of persistent stereotypes that atheists and other nonbelievers are not moral. Explain how you're "good without God," why religion is not necessary for morality and may even be counterproductive. What can you or others do to counter negative stereotypes about nonbelievers? Include at least one paragraph about why you are a nonbeliever.

Length: 500 to 700 words.

Other requirements: Essays must be submitted both by mail and email by postmark deadline. No faxes. Typed, stapled and double-spaced with standard margins. Include word count. Place name and essay title on each page. Choose own title and include a one-paragraph biography on separate page at end of essay. Include name, age and birth date, hometown, university or college, year in school, intended major and interests, name, city and state of high school and date of graduation as well as intended college. Don't attach a résumé.

Provide both summer and fall 2015 addresses (campus and home), phone numbers and email addresses for notification. Winners may be asked to send verification of student enrollment. FFRF monitors for plagiarism. Do not write under or over word minimums and maximums. For chance to win $50 bonus, indicate the name of the secular school or college club you belong to or join the Secular Student Alliance (free at www.secularstudents.org/studentmember) and mention it. The bonus is provided by a kind couple. Click here to view a printable PDF

Deadline: Postmarked no later than June 1, 2015. Winners announced in August.

Submission rules: Essays must be both mailed (postmarked) and emailed no later than June 1, 2015 to  with subject heading "Essay [and Your Full Name]," e.g., Essay Voltaire, and send to:

High School Essay Contest
FFRF
PO Box 750
Madison WI 53701

About William J. Schultz: This competition is endowed by William J. Schultz, 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.

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

Eligibility: Currently enrolled undergraduate college student through age 24, including but not limited to college seniors graduating in the spring or summer 2015, attending a North American college or university.

Prompt: Atheists are one of the most despised minorities, yet statistically are among the most moral segments in the U.S. population. Write a persuasive essay about why nonbelievers should be respected, not stigmatized. Include personal perspective or experiences with religious family, schoolmates or community. Provide supporting arguments (e.g., recent studies, philosophical or historic perspectives) about how freethinkers contribute to society despite widespread vilification. Include at least one paragraph about why you are a nonbeliever.

Length: 700–900 words

Other requirements: Essay must be submitted both by mail and email by postmark deadline. No faxes. Typed, stapled and double-spaced with standard margins. Include word count. Place name and essay title on each page. Choose own title and include a one-paragraph biography on separate page at end of essay. Include name, age and birth date, hometown, university or college, year in school, intended major and interests, and anticipated graduation date. Don't attach a résumé.

Provide both summer and fall 2015 addresses (campus and home), phone numbers and email addresses for notification. Winners may be asked to send verification of student enrollment. FFRF monitors for plagiarism. Do not write under or over word minimums and maximums. For chance to win $50 bonus, indicate the name of the secular school or college club you belong to or join the Secular Student Alliance (free at www.secularstudents.org/studentmember) and mention it. The bonus is provided by a kind couple. Click here to view a printable PDF. 

Deadline: Postmarked no later than June 15, 2015. Winners announced in September.

Submission rules: Essays must be both mailed (postmarked) and emailed no later than June 15, 2015 to with subject heading "Essay [and Your Full Name]," e.g., Essay (Your Full Name), and to:

College Essay Contest
FFRF
PO Box 750
Madison WI 53701

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

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

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 the spring or summer of 2015.

Prompt: Write a persuasive analysis dissecting the common claim that religion cannot be held responsible for violence in its name. For example, President Obama has said of the Islamic State: "They are not religious leaders, they are terrorists. No religion is responsible for terrorism. People are responsible for violence and terrorism." He also said "no god condones the killing of innocents." Analyze the claim that it's only a handful of extremists who are "perverting" religion who are to blame for the violence, and not religion itself. Provide supporting arguments to back up your position (religious pronouncements such as biblical or Koranic verses, historic or contemporary violence, underlying factors, etc.). Are there solutions to religious terrorism?

Length: 750-950 words

Other requirements: Essay must be submitted both by mail and email by postmark deadline. No faxes. Typed, stapled and double-spaced with standard margins. Include word count. Place name and essay title on each page. Choose own title and include one-paragraph biography on separate page at end of essay. Include name, age and birth date, hometown, university or college, year in school, intended major and interests, previous degrees and anticipated graduation date. Don't attach a résumé.

Provide both summer and fall 2015 addresses (campus and home), phone numbers and email addresses for notification. Winners may be asked to send verification of student enrollment. FFRF monitors for plagiarism. Do not write under or over word minimums and maximums. For a chance to win $50 bonus, indicate the name of the secular school or college club you belong to (or join the Secular Student Alliance, free at www.secularstudents.org/studentmember) and mention it). The bonus is provided by a kind couple. Click to view printable PDF here

Deadline: Postmarked no later than July 1, 2015. Winners announced by end of September.

Submission rules: Essays must be both mailed (postmarked) and emailed no later than July 1, 2015 to with subject heading "Essay [and Your Full Name]," e.g., Essay (Your Full Name), and to:

Graduate Student/Older Student Essay Contest
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 counselor and university professor emeritus at the University of Arkansas. 

Printable PDF

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: . 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)

Printable PDF 

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: . 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: .

Printable PDF

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: . 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.

FFRF has received a 4 star rating from Charity Navigator

 

FFRF privacy statement

AAI-LOGO

FFRF is a member of Atheist Alliance International.