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Student Ethics Essay Award

Submissions for the 2022 Student Ethics Essay Award (SEEA) competition are accepted September 1, 2021 – February 4, 2022. Authors of winning essays will be notified in May 2022. See SEEA Award recipients to view previous winners and read their winning essays.

The SEEA program is conducted as part of ASHA's efforts to enhance ethics education activities. The goal of the program is to encourage students to think about ethical decision making and create greater awareness of situations that could pose ethical dilemmas as they prepare to start careers in audiology, speech-language pathology, or speech, language, and hearing sciences.

The essay competition is open to students who are enrolled in any undergraduate, post baccalaureate, or entry-level graduate program (U.S. only) in communication sciences and disorders (CSD). Former and current members of ASHA's Board of Ethics review the essays and select three winning authors. SEEA winners receive the following:

In collaboration with NSSLHA, SEEA winners and their essays are recognized in the following locations.

Award Eligibility

Students: To be considered eligible to participate in the SEEA competition, you must be

  • enrolled in any undergraduate, post baccalaureate, or entry-level graduate program (U.S. only) in CSD, and
  • enrolled part-time or full-time during the 2021–2022 academic year.

2022 Student Ethics Essay

Topic Background

ASHA has shown longstanding leadership and commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Diversity encompasses the variety of experiences, skills, knowledge, and attributes that shape every one of us. Equity is the recognition and elimination of barriers to full participation and engagement by individuals and within systems. Inclusion is the act of employing systems, policies, and practices that support, engage, and demonstrate value for all individuals. (See Diversity and Inclusion at ASHA.) 

ASHA has built DEI into the Association’s Code of Ethics (2016), which prohibits racism and other forms of unlawful discrimination in the professions. Such discrimination may arise (a) for clients/patients/students and their families in clinical settings; (b) for communication sciences and disorders (CSD) students in academic programs; or (c) for colleagues both in and outside our professions. Care should not vary in quality based on an individual’s identity, and making assumptions about individuals could lead to misdiagnosis, improper treatment of the individual, and/or research bias. This is known as discrimination.

Failure to act when witnessing discrimination in the professions may rise to the level of an ethical violation under the Code of Ethics. The Code of Ethics requires covered individuals—audiologists, speech-language pathologists, and speech, language, or hearing scientists who are ASHA members or who hold or who have applied for the Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC)—to comply with local, state, and federal laws related to practice and research. Such laws include federal, state, and local anti-discrimination laws in educational and employment settings. It is important to remember that not all misconduct, however abhorrent, may rise to the level of unethical (or illegal) discrimination.

Essay Topic: Ethics and Discrimination

Sometimes, unethical discrimination can rise to the level of being unlawful discrimination. Even though not every form of discrimination meets the legal standard of being unlawful, such conduct can be unethical.

In your essay, consider a scenario in the professions in which unethical discrimination may arise. Then, using the suggested ethics resources and the ASHA Code of Ethics (2016)

  1. select at least two Principles and Rules from the list below,
  2. describe how the Principles and Rules have been violated in your scenario, and
  3. discuss what action(s) could have been taken to acknowledge and respond to the challenge or dilemma in order to prevent a violation of the Code of Ethics.

Code of Ethics Principles and Rules Related to Discrimination

Essay Requirements

To receive the maximum score available, you and your essay must first meet all of the following requirements.

  • Essay Format
    • 1,200 words or less, excluding title and any references
    • Standard format including title, introduction, body, and summary/conclusion
    • Microsoft Word (.docx), 12-point font, double-spaced
    • Page numbers in footer, starting with first page
    • No footnotes, only end notes
    • All sources cited when quoted, even Code of Ethics
    • No identifying information (e.g., name, address, institution) on the essay
  • Entries must be original work, unpublished, and not under consideration for publication elsewhere.
  • Students may not submit more than one essay; submissions of entries authored by multiple individuals will not be considered.
  • Students must notify their CSD program director of their participation before submitting their entry.

Suggested Essay Resources

Evaluation Criteria

Things to keep in mind as you write your essay:

  • Have you followed the essay format and submission requirements described above?
  • Have you approached the essay topic in a fresh, rich, and illuminating way, avoiding moral platitudes and oversimplification?
  • Have you demonstrated familiarity with the Code of Ethics, relevant Issues in Ethics statements, and other ethics-related resources?
  • Have you made a contribution to ethical deliberation and discernment that is mature, insightful, and likely to be both helpful and interesting to students and ASHA members?
  • Have you presented your position in a clear, logical manner that facilitates understanding of your reasoning?
  • Have you supported your arguments with factors that are ethically relevant, and avoided preoccupation with matters that have little logical relevance to your thesis?
  • Is your analysis comprehensive, objective, balanced, and thorough?
  • Is your essay free of grammatical, typographical, and punctuation errors?

Submission Instructions

  1. Confirm that you and your essay meet the eligibility and format requirements.
  2. Notify your program director that you will be submitting an essay for the SEEA contest.
  3. Go online to fill out the SEEA application and upload your essay—you can save your work and submit it when you're ready.
  4. Meet the deadline: Essays and applications must be submitted by 12:00 p.m. (noon) Eastern Time on Friday, February 4, 2022; the online submission system closes automatically and new or incomplete entries are not accepted.


Contact Karol Scher, ASHA staff liaison to the Ethics Education Subcommittee of the Board of Ethics, at

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