Student Awards

ACA Foundation 2016 Graduate Student Essay Competitions

2016 Graduate Student Essay Competitions Winners Announced!

2016 Corey/Ivey Competition Grand Prize Winning Essay - Kelly King (University of North Carolina at Greensboro)

2016 Corey/Ivey Grand Prize Winning Essay - Rachel Mickelsen (University of Texas at San Antonio)

2016 Ross Trust Grand Prize Winning Essay - Robin Lane (University of Texas at Austin)

The 2017 Graduate Student Essay Competitions will open Fall 2016.

October 1, 2015

Welcome to the ACA Foundation 2016 Graduate Student Essay Competitions! This program is available to ACA student members and administered by the ACA Foundation. Since its inception, the ACA Foundation has been a strong supporter of graduate students in counseling. From scholarship awards for attendance at the ACA Annual Conference and Expo, to supporting the Graduate Student/New Professional Center and special education events at the conference, the ACA Foundation has taken an active role in helping counseling students become more involved in this exciting and demanding profession.

The ACA Foundation 2016 Graduate Student Essay Competitions, including the Future School Counselors Essay Competition (sponsored by the Roland and Dorothy Ross Trust) and the Graduate Student Essay Competition (sponsored by Gerald and Marianne Corey and Allen and Mary Bradford Ivey), will operate according to the following calendar:

  • The online essay submission form will go live on October 1, 2015.
  • All essays must be received by December 11, 2015 at 11:59 pm EST.
  • Award recipients will announced by January 29, 2016.
  • Essay competition winners will be recognized at the National Awards ceremony at the ACA 2016 Conference & Expo on April 2, 2016.

Essay Competitions
Two competitions for ACA student members are being held:

Graduate Student Essay Competition
Supported by Gerald and Marianne Corey and Allen and Mary Bradford Ivey (open to all ACA members enrolled in counseling-related graduate studies at an accredited college or university).

Future School Counselors Essay Competition 
Supported by the Roland and Dorothy Ross Trust (open to all ACA members enrolled in counseling-related studies at an accredited college or university leading to a career as a professional school counselor at the elementary, middle, or high school level).  Only future school counselors who intend to function in preK-12 educational settings are eligible.

Eligibility and Competition Rules

Only ACA student members can participate in the essay competitions (if not currently a member and you wish to join or renew, please go to Participants may enter only one of the two competitions. 
Competitions are open to master's and doctoral level students. You must be a currently enrolled student (fall semester/term 2015), taking one or more graduate level courses at an accredited college or university.

For the ACA Future School Counselors Essay Competition, you must certify that you are working toward a career as a professional school counselor at the elementary, middle or high school level. 

Essays are to be 500 words or less in length, addressing the theme below, and submitted via the online essay submission form below (emailed or mailed submissions will not be accepted) by December 11, 2015 at 11:59 PM, EST.  

Previous grand prize winners are not eligible, but runners up and honorable mentioned awardees may submit essays.

The decisions of the judges are final. All entrants, by the act of entering, grant the American Counseling Association and the ACA Foundation the right to publish their essay as part of the post-competition publicity in ACA’s
Counseling Today magazine and on the ACA and ACA Foundation websites. There can be no substitution of prizes and no cash returned on any portion of the unused ACA eGift Certificate prizes. 


Corey/Ivey Graduate Student Essay Competition

Grand Prize Winner (1)
  • $1,000 grant,
  • Complimentary registration to the ACA 2016 Conference & Expo,
  • $250 ACA eGift certificate, AND
  • Publication of essay in Counseling Today
Runners-up (5) Honorable Mention (10)

Ross Trust Future School Counselors Essay Competition

Grand Prize Winner (1)
  • $1,000 grant,
  • Complimentary registration to the ACA 2016 Conference & Expo,
  • $250 ACA eGift certificate, AND
  • Publication of essay in Counseling Today
Runners-up (5) Honorable Mention (10)

Essay Theme
Student members wishing to participate in either essay competition must address the following theme:

The ACA Governing Council recently endorsed a revision of the
Multicultural and Social Justice Counseling Competencies (MSJCC), which were developed by the Association for Multicultural Counseling and Development (AMCD).

ACA student members are asked to address what these competencies mean to them and identify ways in which they can be integrated into their formal education and eventual practice. Essayists may also speak to any challenges such integration might pose and offer solutions as to how such deterrents could be eliminated or alleviated.

It is recommended that you write your essay in the program of choice and then copy and paste it into the online submission form below.  Please retain a copy of your essay in case there is a problem in transmission of your entry. Neither ACA or the ACA Foundation is responsible if an entry does not reach us. Essay length is limited to 500 words. Entry deadline is 11:59 pm EST on December 11, 2015. 

Click here to read the 2015 grand prize winning essays.

All entries will be read by a team of experienced professional counselors and evaluated with respect to how effectively the essay addresses the subject and offers provocative insights into the profession of counseling and its future. Judges will want to see ideas well explained and supported, but will also be evaluating how effectively the essayist presented his/her view and how interesting that position will be seen by the counseling community at large.

Judging will be completed by mid-January so that winners can be notified in time to make plans to attend the ACA Conference & Expo, March 31-April 3, 2016, in Montreal. Grand prize winners will receive their grant at the ACA National Awards Ceremony on April 2nd, 2016.

Ready to enter? Complete the information requested on the entry form below and submit to ACA by December 11, 2015 at 11:59 pm, EST.

Contact Information
Questions? Email them to

The Essay Competitions are now closed.  

All entrants will be notified of status by January 29, 2016.

2015 Graduate Student Essay Competitions Winners
2015 Grand Prize Winning Essays - May CT
2014 Graduate Student Essay Competitions Winners

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Morgan Spurlock is Opening Keynote Speaker for ACA's 2014 Conference And Expo

by User Not Found | Sep 05, 2013
Morgan Spurlock is an award-winning writer, director, and producer best known for his immersive explorations of the social issues that both directly and indirectly shape the choices and life paths of our clients, students, colleagues… and ourselves. As a man with his finger on the pulse of a rapidly changing society, Spurlock will share experiences, insights, and reflections from the front lines of American culture.
Morgan Spurlock, Academy Award-Nominated Director of Super Size Me and Documentary Filmmaker
March 27, 2014
8:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.

His first feature length film, Super Size Me, played in more than 100 countries, influenced school lunch programs across the nation, empowered millions to change their own eating habits, and eliminated super size options from the world’s largest fast food chain. The film was also used by senators, congressmen, and lobby groups as a call to action for multiple food and education related causes.

Other accomplishments include: the critically acclaimed FX program, 30 Days, which dealt with such polarizing issues as the minimum wage, prison reform, abortion, and gun control; Where in the World is Osama bin Laden?, which was named “one of the most important films of the year” by the Islamic Society of North America; The Simpsons 20th Anniversary Special in 3-D on Ice!; the film adaptation of the best selling book Freakonomics; and POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, a documentary about branding, advertising, and product placement, which was funded by branding, advertising, and product placement, and made some serious points about the ubiquity of branding in our daily lives. 

In April 2012, Spurlock’s released the documentary, Comic-Con Episode IV – A Fan's Hope, which follows a group of attendees around the 2010 San Diego Comic-Con. A month later, his doc Mansome hit theaters, which features an all-star cast of commentators including Will Arnett, Jason Bateman, and Zach Galifianakis who hilariously opine on the grooming habits of the 21st century man.

In 2013, Spurlock returned to TV as host and producer of the CNN original series, Inside Man. Each week Spurlock provides an insider’s view into rarely-seen sectors of American life that include gun lovers, marijuana growers, migrant farm workers, and end-of-life caregivers.