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Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.

Grad/older student essay contest winners

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is proud to announce the 10 top winners and 12 honorable mentions in the 2021 Brian Bolton Graduate/Older Student Essay Competition.

FFRF has paid out a total of $17,850 in award money for this contest.

Students were asked to write an essay on the dangers of religious extremism in 21st century America.

Winners, their ages, colleges or universities they are attending and the award amount are listed below.

FIRST PLACE

Elias Rodriguez, 27, University of Texas at Dallas, $3,500.

SECOND PLACE

Devin Vertrees, 26, Johns Hopkins University, $3,000.

THIRD PLACE

Hannah Howell, 23, Stanford University, $2,500.

FOURTH PLACE

Kyra Miller, 22, Rutgers University, $2,000. 

FIFTH PLACE

George Jean-Babets, 29, Boston College, $1,500.

SIXTH PLACE

Benjamin Schreiner, 26, American University, $1,000. 

SEVENTH PLACE

Katherine Ferran, 26, Michigan State University, $750. 

EIGHTH PLACE

Lydia Taylor, 21, University of Denver, $500.

NINTH PLACE

Hanna Talsky, 29, Florida School of Massage, $400. 

TENTH PLACE

Daniella Germonprez, 28, Vanderbilt University, $300.

HONORABLE MENTIONS ($200 each)

Victoria Cheung, 30, University of Michigan.

Kristen Chew, 29, Lock Haven University.

Brandon Cooper, 29, California Institute of the Arts. 

Carina Garcia, 23, California State University, Stanislaus.

Daniella Leon, 29, Mesa Community College.

Lawrence Mullen, 25, University of Buffalo.

Scout K. Myracle, 28, University of Memphis.

Jenna Slater, 30, California Institute of Integral Studies.

Daniel Spaulding, 25, Concordia Seminary.

Myranda Sullivan, 28, Arizona State University.

Chelsea Westfall, 29, Northern Arizona University.

Cassidy Yñigez, 23, Texas A&M University.

FFRF thanks “Director of First Impressions” Lisa Treu for managing the details of this and FFRF’s other student essay competitions. FFRF would also like to thank its volunteers and staff for reading and judging the essays, including Donald Ardell, Dan Barker, Bill Dunn, Annie Laurie Gaylor, Stephen Hirtle, Greta Martens, Amit Pal, PJ Slinger and Casandra Zimmerman.

FFRF has offered essay competitions to college students since 1979, high school students since 1994, grad students since 2010, one geared explicitly for students of color since 2016, and a fifth contest for law students since 2019.