Announcing the winners of FIRE’s 2017-2018 Free Speech Essay Contest!

February 1, 2018

After reading through more than 2,500 essays from high school juniors and seniors across the country, as well as from American students overseas, we are pleased to announce that we have selected the following winners of this year’s Free Speech Essay Contest:


First Place – $10,000 Scholarship Prize


Shelby Tone – Tone Academy (homeschool) – Stoughton, WI

Second Place – $5,000 Scholarship Prize


Robyn Anzulis – South Carroll High School – Woodbine, MD

Third Place – (3) $1,000 Scholarship Prizes


Luke Sorensen – Marana High School – Tucson, AZ


Bhargavi Garimella – Leland High School – San Jose, CA


Daniel Garcia – Aliso Niguel High School – Aliso Viejo, CA

Runners-Up – (4) $500 Scholarship Prizes


Alison Rubin – Davis Senior High School – Davis, CA


Sarah Duncan – McKinney High School – McKinney, TX


William Zhuang – Blue Valley Northwest High School – Overland Park, KS


Kaitlyn Hardwick – Russell County High School – Russell Springs, KY


FIRE will be sharing some of the winning essays here on the newsdesk in the coming days, so stay tuned.

Thank you to everyone who entered this year’s contest. Selecting the winners from so many deserving candidates was an enormous challenge, and we appreciate the efforts of all who took the time to participate. We will reopen the contest in the fall for high school juniors and seniors during the 2018-2019 school year, and you will be able to find the new essay prompt then at We look forward to receiving your essays!