Helge Center

Calling & Character Student Prize

Calling and Character Prize

The Institute for Leadership and Service is soliciting submissions from Valpo students for an essay contest, which invites applicants to reflect on questions related to the theme of calling and character. The “Calling and Character Prize” will be awarded to one student in the amount of  $1000. Up to four runner-up prizes of $500 may also be awarded.  

Submissions for the prize must be in the format of a written essay (800-1000 words). A committee of Valpo faculty, staff, and students will judge the submissions. 

**Students who applied last year are encouraged to apply this year with the new prompt! Students who received the award last year are not eligible to apply.**


Use the prompt to write an essay (800-1000 words) and should substantively engage at least one other important source that touches on the themes of calling, character, and diverse relationships

Essay Prompt:

In a diverse and often polarized culture, what sorts of friendships are you called to cultivate? What would it look like for Valparaiso University to be a community that creates space for friendship across religious, cultural, racial, and political difference? What sorts of shared stories or experiences have changed the way you think about the world since you arrived at Valparaiso? And what kind of person are you called to be in relation to those who may be so very different from you?

Some excellent options for source material include: 

  1. The university’s mission statement 
  2. Ann Lutterman-Aguilar’s “Ecumenical and Interfaith Understandings of Vocation” 
  3. Howard Thurman’s “The Sound of the Genuine”
  4. Kedron Bardwell’s “Questions for Vocational Reflection”

A complete application will include:

  1. A cover letter summarizing the submission.
  2. The essay
  3. A nomination of a Valpo faculty member for Virtues of Vocation Award. In your nomination (minimum 100 words), please explain why this particular faculty mentor is an excellent example of mentorship around the above theme of “calling and character.” How has this person inspired you to lead a life that truly matters?

Please submit all three components of the application via email to the Institute for Leadership and Service at lead.serve@valpo.edu no later than April 8th, 2022, 5:00 p.m.


The cover sheet is to include your name, your Valpo I.D. #, a current mailing address, Valpo email address and telephone number. 

Essay format must follow these guidelines:

A minimum word count of 800, and a maximum word count of 1000 (the word count must be noted at the end of the essay); the pages should be numbered; double-spaced with 1” margins, 12 pt. Calibri or Times New Roman font, and submitted in .docx or .pdf format. The essay should include citations, and those citations should be in MLA, APA, or Chicago style.

All winners will be notified by their Valpo email. The winning submissions will also be announced via the institute’s social media accounts and featured on the Institute for Leadership and Services’ web page. 

For additional information or questions, contact us at lead.serve@valpo.edu

Good luck, we’re excited to see what you come up with!