Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc. FFRF.org

2020 Students of Color essay contest winners

Vol. 37 No. 09 November 2020

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is proud to announce the 16 top winners and nine honorable mentions of the 2020 David Hudak Memorial Students of Color Essay Competition for College Students.

FFRF has paid out a record total of $28,150 in award money for this contest this year.

College students of color were asked to write a personal persuasive essay about “Living and thriving without religion.” FFRF received 342 entries for this contest.

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

FIRST PLACE

Nidhi Nair, 19, University of

Connecticut, $3,500.

SECOND PLACE (tie)

Gianna White, 20, New York University, $3,000.

Taylor Fang, 17, Harvard University, $3,000.

THIRD PLACE (tie)

Justine Vega, 19, New York University, $2,500.

Stephanie Black, 19, Rensselaer

Polytechnic Institute, $2,500.

FOURTH PLACE (tie)

Nickaela Steele, 18, Howard University, $2,000.

Leila Okorie, 19, University of

Washington, $2,000.

FIFTH PLACE (tie)

Rojina Timsina, 18, Kalamazoo

College, $1,500.

Shreyas Kallingal, 18, University of California-Berkeley, $1,500.

SIXTH PLACE (tie)

Mahum Haque, 19, University of Iowa, $1,000.

Tina Wen, Rice University, $1,000.

SEVENTH PLACE

Praneel Bonthala, 18, University of California-Los Angeles, $750.

EIGHTH PLACE (tie)

Akeima Gibbs, 18, Temple University, $500.

Aaliyah Philippe-Auguste, 18, Towson University, $500.

NINTH PLACE

Idalina Du, 18, Rice University, $400.

TENTH PLACE

Manuela Cano, 19, University of South Carolina, $300.

HONORABLE MENTIONS ($200 each)

Claire Hill, 19, Drake University.

Je-Woo Im, 18, Northwestern University.

Nicole Kye, 19, Cornell University.

Jonathan Le, 18, University of

California, Irvine.

Grace Okafor, 21, University of

Maryland College Park.

Anousha Peters, 20 Columbia University.

Aline Pham, 19, University of

California, Irvine.

Bruno Rios De La Fuente, 21,

CSU Channel Islands.

Tamanna Sheikh, 20, Virginia

Commonwealth University.

FFRF thanks Dean and Dorea Schramm of Florida for providing a $100 bonus to students who are members of a secular group, student club or the Secular Student Alliance. The total of $28,150 reflects those bonuses.

FFRF also thanks “Director of First Impressions” Lisa Treu for managing the details of this and FFRF’s other student essays competitions, with Kati Treu assisting. And we also would like to thank out “faithful faithless” volunteer and staff readers and judges, including: Don Ardell, Dan Barker, Darrell Barker, Bill Dunn, Annie Laurie Gaylor, Judi Jacobs, Linda Josheff, Dan Kettner, Katya Maes, Gloria Marquardt, Amit Pal, Dave Petrashek, Sue Schuetz, Lauryn Seering, PJ Slinger, Mandisa Thomas, David Tomayo and Karen Lee Weidig.

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.