Announcing the winners of FIRE’s 2018-2019 Free Speech Essay Contest!

January 31, 2019

After reading through more than 3,800 essays from high school juniors and seniors across the country, as well as from American students overseas, we are excited to announce the following winners of this year’s Free Speech Essay Contest:

First Place – $10,000 Scholarship Prize

Jeshelle Hofland – Homeschooled, Lamont, MI


Second Place – $5,000 Scholarship Prize

Michael Morgan – duPont Manual High School, Louisville, KY


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

Michelle Wei – Desert Vista High School, Phoenix, AZ

Evelyn Crowe – Concordia High School, Georgetown, TX

Elena Olvera – Pioneer High School, Woodland, CA


Runners-Up – (4) $500 Scholarship Prizes

Victoria Ferguson – Fort Davis High School, Fort Davis, TX

Emma Sawyer – Homeschooled, Yulee, FL

Eric Chang – Harnett Central High School, Lillington, NC

Ian Olson – The Bush School, Seattle, WA


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

Thank you to everyone who entered this year’s contest. It’s extremely heartening to see how many young people care so passionately about freedom of expression in academia and who are speaking up, articulately and compellingly, in its defense. 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 2019-2020 school year, and you will be able to find the new essay prompt then at thefire.org/resources/high-school-network/essay-contest. We look forward to receiving your essays!