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Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.

Winners of FFRF’s 2022 high school essay contest

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is proud to announce the winners of the 2022 William Schulz High School Essay Contest. FFRF has awarded $17,850 in scholarship money for this year’s contest!

College-bound high school seniors were asked to write a personal persuasive essay based on this prompt: “Please write a letter to a religious friend, relative, classmate, teacher, etc., who buys the myth that one can’t be moral without believing in a god. Explain why you can be “good without God. 

FFRF awarded 10 top prizes and 12 honorable mentions.

Winners are listed below and include the college or university they are now attending and the award amount.

First Place

Noel Atkinson, 18, St. Olaf College, $3,500.

Second Place 

Hannah Shiohara, 18, University of California, Berkeley, $3,000.

Third Place

Patrick McDonald, 19, $2,500.

Fourth Place

Melanie Barry, 18, Western Washington University, $2,000.

Fifth Place

Oliver Brown, 18, Western Washington University, $1,500.

Sixth Place

Maya Michalski, 18, Marymount Manhattan College, $1,000.

Seventh Place

Lindsey Lopez, 18, University of North Texas, $750.

Eighth Place

Sarah Petty, 18, University of North Texas, $500.

Ninth Place

Adam Tobin-Williams, 18, Johns Hopkins University, $400.

Tenth Place

Morgyn Michelson, 18, UCLA, $300.   

Honorable mentions ($200 each)

Dakota Allred, 18, Arizona State University.

Evan Brown, 18, University of Missouri – Columbia.

Gianluca Ghinazzi, 19, Virginia Polytechnic University.

Sara Kephart, 19, Drexel University.

Ane Kirk-Jadric, 18, Vanderbilt University.    

Ben Martin, 18, Syracuse University.

Gracie McCurdy, 18, Austin Peay State University.

Angelique Miller, 18, Ohio University.

Ashley Parow, 18, University of South Florida.

Lily Prince, 18, Western Oregon University.

Jariah Richardson, 18, Horry Georgetown Technical College.

Alexandra Share, 18, West Chester University.       

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 also warmly thanks FFRF “Director of First Impressions” Lisa Treu for managing the infinite 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, Kate Garmise, Ricki Grunberg, Tim Hatcher, Joe Hendrickson, Dan Kettner, Brianna Knoppow, Gloria Marquadt, April O’Leary, JoAnn Papich, Sue Schuetz, Wanda Shirk, PJ Slinger and Sarah Weinstock.

FFRF has offered essay competitions to college students since 1979, high school students since 1994, grad students since 2010 and one dedicated to students of color since 2016. A fifth contest, open to law students, began in 2019.