Student Essay Contest

NISOD invites students at NISOD-member colleges to participate in the Scott Wright Student Essay Contest!

Students* describe in a 500-word (or less) essay a faculty member, staff member, or administrator who encouraged them to complete a course, finish a semester, or graduate from college and how that encouragement helped them reach their goal(s).

*Only students currently enrolled at NISOD member colleges are eligible.

The Prize

Three (3) winning student authors and the faculty members, staff members, or administrators featured in the winning essays will each receive:

  • $1,000 USD
  • Travel to the International Conference on Teaching and Leadership Excellence (May 28-31 in Austin, Texas), which includes:
    • Up to $400 USD toward travel to Austin, Texas;
    • Up to three (3) nights lodging (Saturday, Sunday, Monday nights only);
    • One (1) complimentary conference registration.

(Note: Winning authors will read their essays on stage during the conference’s Excellence Awards Dinner and Celebration on Sunday, May 29.)

In addition, each winning student author’s college will receive a complimentary one-year NISOD membership.

Evaluation Criteria

Submissions will be evaluated based on the following criteria: Content, originality, clarity, organization, conciseness, and grammar.


  • Contest opens: August 20, 2021
  • Submission deadline: March 11, 2022
  • Winners notified: March 25, 2022
  • Winner acceptance due: April 1, 2022
  • Winners’ photos due: April 8, 2022
  • Prize and essay presentations at NISOD conference: May 28-31, 2022

Past Student Essay Contest Winners

Liaisons/Staff/Faculty: Use the following flyers to announce the contest at your college: Student Essay Contest | Combined Student Contests

Students: Please review the Criteria and Terms before submitting your essay.

Submit Your Essay

The annual Scott Wright Student Essay Contest is in honor of Scott Wright (July 27, 1964 ­- June 08, 2003), past editor of Community College Week, recipient of the 1998 Award for Excellence in Higher Education Journalism, and the reporter who brought national attention to developmental education and the unique mission community colleges possess in providing an accessible education.

Visit our FAQ page or contact our Membership Team at or (512) 471-7545 for more information.