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

2021 BIPOC student essay contest winners

Vol. 38 No. 09 November 2021

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is proud to announce the 13 top winners and 11 honorable mentions of the 2021 David Hudak Memorial Black, Indigenous and Persons of Color Student Essay Competition.

FFRF has paid out a total of $22,900 in award money for this contest this year.

BIPOC students were asked to write a personal persuasive essay about “What I would tell my family or friends about my atheism or nonbelief.” 

“The quality of the essays this year was one of the best in memory and, because of that, deciding the winners was extremely difficult,” says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “It was a pleasure reading these.” 

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

FIRST PLACE

Galilea Baca, 18, Collin Community

College, $3,500.

SECOND PLACE

Shreyas Karki, 21, Rice University,

$3,000.

THIRD PLACE (tie)

Everett Viego, 20, University of Texas,

$2,500.

Fadima Tall, 20, Rollins College,

$2,500.

FOURTH PLACE (tie)

Tylinn Wilson, 19, Wichita State 

University, $2,000.

Philip Haynie, 18, Hampton 

University, $2,000.

FIFTH PLACE

Davina Boison, 19, University of 

North Carolina, $1,500.

SIXTH PLACE

Alina Sokolova, 19, Concordia 

College, $1,000.

SEVENTH PLACE (tie)

Jade Garza, 18, University of 

Texas – San Antonio, $750.

Sumaiyah, 19, $750.

EIGHTH PLACE

Scarly Michelle Benitez-Carbajal, 19 New York University, $500.

NINTH PLACE

Luca Ng, 20, Iowa State University, 

$400.

TENTH PLACE

Anqi Qu, 20, University of Chicago,

$300.

HONORABLE MENTIONS ($200 each)

Caitlin Guidry, 19, Houston 

Community College.

Angie Hayes, 18, University of 

Nevada-Las Vegas.

Grecia Hingst, 22, Loyola University

New Orleans.

Jaromir Sashi, 18, University of 

Houston.

Daphne Moon, 18, Art Institute of 

Chicago.

Christopher Nava, 19, University of

California-Irvine.

Suly Ramirez, 20, University of 

Texas.

Aerahan Skanthakumar, 18, 

University of Illinois.

Cole Songster, 19, Knox College.

Joanna Tapia, 21, Bradley University.

Nadiyah Williams, 19, Georgia 

Institute of Technology.

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