Valerie Kay Hardy English Essay Competition Guidelines

Junior and senior English majors and minors who have written a first-rate essay for an English class are encouraged to submit the essay to the Valerie Kay Hardy English Essay Competition. The annual winner is announced at the English department commencement ceremony.

Essays eligible for the award include papers written for English courses during the academic year. All papers must be submitted to the English department administrative coordinator, following the procedure outlined below, on or preferably before the date of the student's final examination in the English course.

For students submitting essays:

Each student is eligible to submit one essay per semester during the academic year, so qualified entries are encouraged in the fall as well as the spring semester. During the year, students may examine winning papers already on file in the department. After selecting the most competitive essay for entry, students should submit via campus mail a clean copy of the draft that they submitted for a grade (without instructors’ comments but also without further revision) to Emily Tarchokov, academic administrative coordinator in the English department.

On the cover page, students should include the following information:

Valerie Kay Hardy English Essay Competition
Date of submission
Course and instructor
Student's name
Pledge and signature

The pledge should be a variation of the honor code and signed:

I pledge that I have neither given nor received any unauthorized aid during the completion of this work. I am providing my instructor with an identical copy of the original, with no other changes except this title page, and (if they were missing from the original) numbers on the upper right-hand top of the page, and MLA documentation of all sources in a Works Cited page.

For faculty members submitting student essays:

Faculty members who have received an outstanding English paper that they believe qualifies for the competition should inform the student author that they would like to submit the paper to the competition. Students should submit a clean copy (without comments or grade but with the cover page and honor code mentioned above) to the faculty member who will submit the paper to Emily Tarchokov. While students may only submit one eligible paper to the competition per semester, faculty may submit more than one paper, including more than one paper by the same student.

In all cases, students should also email an electronic version of their submission to Emily Tarchokov. This will allow winning papers to be edited quickly between judging and publication.


Once essays are received, the title page will be removed and each paper will be assigned a number, making each paper an anonymous submission. The committee of judges will be informed if a paper previously submitted to any of its members is included. To preserve the student's anonymity and guarantee that no English faculty member judges a paper he or she has already graded, an alternate judge will be assigned to read the paper.

Each year’s prize essay or essays will be announced, with copies (perhaps including minor corrections by the judges) circulated to students and parents, at the English department commencement ceremony. A cash prize will be awarded and additional copies will remain available throughout the following year, both in the English department and in the office of the dean of the School of Arts & Sciences.