The Jody Esper Essay Award

This annual student writing competition honors the memory of Professor Jody Esper. The award is open to all majors. Students submit essays on issues related to sexual assault education, awareness, and prevention.

The winner of this contest receives $50 and recognition at the annual Spring Picnic along with a certificate. The winner’s name is placed on a plaque on display in the psychology department. The winning submission is published on the department website each year.

The paper may be either a review of research, a persuasive essay, or an account of personal experience. Suggested possible topics include:

  • Sexual harassment
  • Date rape drugs
  • Sexual assault prevention
  • Gender communications
  • Gender equity
  • Healthy gender relationships

Submission Guidelines

  • Submission Deadline: April 15
  • Paper Length: Approximately five double-spaced pages
  • Student Info: State your major, class standing, activities, and other info about yourself that you would like to be included in the award ceremony
  • Procedure: Papers must be emailed as a Microsoft Word attachment to Terri Hendle, the psychology department’s administrative assistant, at

This award honors the life and work of Jody Esper, Ph.D., associate professor and chair of psychology at Valparaiso University from 1985 until her passing in 2002. Professor Esper devoted much of her career to the prevention of sexual assault and the assistance of survivors of sexual assault. Among her many activities in this area, Professor Esper organized the first Take Back the Night event and she played a leadership role in establishing the Sexual Assault Awareness and Facilitative Education (SAAFE) Office at Valparaiso University.

Students may participate in this competition as a way to honor Jody Esper’s memory and further advance her pioneering efforts to prevent sexual assault in our community.