FFRF awards $9,650 to 2017 Essay Contest for Graduate/’Older’ Students


The Freedom From Religion Foundation is proud to announce the 14 winners of the 2017 Brian Bolton Graduate/”Older” Student Essay Contest.

Graduate students were asked to write a personal persuasive essay on the topic, “Why religious liberty shouldn’t mean the right to impose your religion on others.”

After careful consideration, FFRF awarded six top prizes and eight honorable mentions.
Listed below are the winners, their ages, college or university they are attending and the award amount. FFRF will award a total of $9,650 in award money for this contest this year.

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
  • Chris Henry, 28, grad student at University of Kentucky
  • 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

The graduate student contest is generously and single-handedly endowed by Lifetime Member Brian Bolton, a retired psychologist, humanist minister and professor emeritus at the University of Arkansas. The contest is open to graduate students up to age 30, and undergraduates ages 25-30.
FFRF also thanks Dean and Dorea Schramm of Florida for providing the $100 bonus to students who are members of a secular student club or the Secular Student Alliance. The total of $9,650 reflects those bonuses.

FFRF has offered essay competitions to college students since 1979, high school students since 1994 and graduate students since 2010, and this year made permanent a contest directed specifically to freethinking students of color. FFRF awarded a record total of $41,050 to the student essayists this year.

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