The Freedom From Religion Foundation is proud to announce the winners of the 2021 William Schulz High School Essay Contest. FFRF is awarding $21,350 in scholarship money for this year’s contest!
College-bound high school seniors were asked to write an essay based on this prompt:
“Write a personal statement about why you trust science over faith, and why you think society should do the same. Please include an example of how religious faith has obstructed science or analyze a historic or current issue related to religion vs. science.”
After reviewing 220 essays, FFRF awarded 11 top prizes and 17 honorable mentions.
Winners are listed below and include the college or university they will be attending and the award amount. All students were 17 or 18 when they submitted their essays.
Ava Bertolotti, Northeastern University, $3,500.
Ellianna Thayne, University of Washington, $3,000.
THIRD PLACE (tie)
Jeremiah Brown, Rochester Institute of Technology, $2,500.
THIRD PLACE (tie)
Elizabeth Getty, University of Minnesota, $2,500.
Adam Pierce, University of California-Berkeley, $2,000.
Andrew Delaney, University of California-Berkeley, $1,500.
Alexis Martin, University of Miami, $1,000.
Laura Streminsky, Boston University, $750.
Caleb Buell, University of Alabama, $500.
Ashley Levstik, University of Texas-San Antonio, $400.
Alaina Adderley, Plymouth State University, $300.
Honorable mentions ($200 each)
Ainsley Anderson, Tulane University.
Elizabeth Andraschko, University of Wisconsin.
Benjamin Ash, Arizona State University.
Neil Dervis, University of Central Florida.
Shamsul Haque, University of Virginia.
Trinitey Hayward, University of Arkansas.
Anna Hendrick, College of William and Mary.
Neha Kumar, New York University.
Isabel Li, Scripps college.
Adrianna Martinez-Lainez, Seattle University.
Eliane Odefey, Middlebury College.
Carlin Padgett, Western Washington University.
Haden Ringel, University of Chicago.
Gavin Ruby, University of Colorado-Boulder.
Garret Snitchler, University of Nebraska.
Josiah Wilson, Indiana State University.
Ares Zhang, University of Washington-Tacoma.
Those who are not named winners receive a complimentary FFRF membership for a year and are offered a book or freethought product as a thank-you for entering.
The high school contest is named for the late William J. Schulz, a Wisconsin member and life-long learner who died at 57 and left a generous bequest to FFRF.
FFRF thanks its “Director of First Impressions” Lisa Treu for managing the details of this and FFRF’s other annual student competitions. And we couldn’t judge these contests without our “faithful faithless” readers and judges, including: Don Ardell, Dan Barker, Darrell Barker, Bill Dunn, Annie Laurie Gaylor, Linda Josheff, Dan Kettner, Sammi Lawrence, Katya Maes, Amit Pal, Dave Petrashek, Sue Schuetz, Lauryn Seering, PJ Slinger, Karen Lee Weidig and Jenny Wilson.
FFRF has offered essay competitions to college students since 1979, high school students since 1994, grad students since 2010, students of color since 2016, and law school students since 2019.