High school essay competition

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is proud to announce the numerous winners of the 2018 William Schulz High School Essay Contest.

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

High school seniors were asked to write a personal persuasive essay based on this prompt: “Why I believe ‘They who live on love and laughter, don’t mess around with the hereafter.’” The slightly irreverent lyricist Yip (“Over the Rainbow”) Harburg wrote the above line.   

After carefully reviewing more than 250 essays, FFRF awarded 10 top prizes and 14 honorable mentions.

Winners are listed below and include the award amount and the college or university they will be attending. FFRF has paid out a total of $13,000 in award money for this contest this year.

First place

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

Second place

Sarah Almstrom, University of  Massachusetts ($2,000)

Third place

Andreanna Papatheodorou, Bryn  Mawr College ($1,000)

Fourth place (tie)

Mackenzie Brown, Arizona State University ($750)

Aisha Galdo, University of Florida  ($750)

Fifth place (tie)

Matthew Bergosh, University of Southern California ($600) 

Sam Mathisson,  University of  Michigan ($600)

Sixth place (tie)

Trevor Jansen, University of Maryland, Baltimore County ($500)

Alden Lecroy, Clemson University  ($500)

Seventh place

Ariana Menjivar, Montgomery College ($400)

Honorable mentions ($200 each)

Fatima Bartel, Ramapo College

Nick Bellizzi, University of Illinois

Meghan Cashell, University of Missouri

Haidee Clauer, Pomona College

Amber Cocchiola, Kent State University

Amber Fehrs, Brown University

Kenneth Gonzalez Santibanez, Princeton University

Mitchell Griffin, University of Iowa

Damon W. Jordan, Ohio State University

Maddy Malik, Vanderbilt University

Benjamin Manzo, Ashland University

Haven Morris, Armed Forces in Germany

Jonathan Obeda, University of California-Riverside

John West, University of Minnesota

The high school contest is named for the late 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 award.

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 $13,000 reflects those bonuses.

The students of color essay winners will be announced in the September issue, the college student essay winners will be announced in the October issue and the grad student essays will be announced in the November issue.