STEM Essay Closed

About the Contest

Each year, the Virginia Council on Women (Council) hosts an Annual STEM Essay Contest (Contest). The Contest, which started in 2012 under Governor Bob McDonnell’s administration, awards high school senior girls pursuing STEM majors and careers with scholarships to aid with their tuition at institutions of higher education, to include but not limited to four-year colleges and universities, community colleges, and career and technical schools in the Commonwealth of Virginia and throughout the Unites States. Since the establishment of the Contest, the Council has awarded more than $150,000 in scholarships. 

Defining STEM: The Virginia Council on Women’s definition of STEM includes majors and careers in the following areas: science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and healthcare. In 2020, as the Council prepared to launch the 10th Annual STEM Essay Contest, it broadened the definition of STEM to STEAM-H, which includes the following areas: science, technology, engineering, arts, mathematics, and healthcare. As of 2020, the contest is now referred to as the Virginia Council on Women Annual STEAM-H Contest. This decision was made in an effort to be more inclusive of the increasing intersection between STEM and the arts.

Contest Timeline

  • Contest Launches

    Monday, November 16, 2020

  • Contest Ends

    Friday, March 5, 2021

  • Scholarship Award Recipients Notified

    Thursday, April 1, 2021

  • Scholarship Award Recipients Reception

    April 2021 (virtual)

  • Scholarship Dispersed

    July 2021

Contest Eligibility Requirements

All applicants for the Virginia Council on Women STEM Essay Contest must:

Merit-Based

  • Be a Virginia resident
  • Be enrolled in a Virginia-based high school or high school equivalent (to include homeschool)
  • Be a high school senior female or identify as a female
    Be planning to attend an institution of higher education to include but not limited to a community college, four-year college or university, trade or technical school, or certificate program
  • Have a minimum 3.0 GPA (4.0 Scale)

Need-Based

  • Be a Virginia resident
  • Be enrolled in a Virginia-based high school or high school equivalent (to include homeschool)
  • Be a high school senior female or identify as a female
  • Be planning to attend an institution of higher education to include but not limited to a community college, four-year college or university, trade or technical school, or certificate program
  • Have a minimum 2.5 GPA (4.0 Scale)

Contest Guidelines

Essay Prompt
Write a 700-1,000-word essay responding to the following:

  • Your motivation for pursuing a STEM career
  • Your anticipated course of STEM study, trade, and/or profession

Judging Criteria

All essays are judged on the following:

  • Content
  • Creativity
  • Spelling, Punctuation, Grammar

About the Geographic Regions:
For the purposes of the STEM Essay Contest, the Virginia Council on Women has identified five geographic regions across the Commonwealth of Virginia. One individual from each of the regions below will be selected as a scholarship award recipient.

Accomack, Belle Haven, Carrsville, Chesapeake, Essex, Franklin, Gloucester, Hampton, Isle of Wight, James City, King George, Lancaster, Machipongo, Mathews, Middlesex, Newport News, Norfolk, Northampton, Northumberland, Portsmouth, Poquoson, Smithfield, Suffolk, Surry, Virginia Beach, Westmoreland, Williamsburg, York, Yorktown
Bland, Bristol, Brunswick, Buchanan, Carroll, Charlotte, Danville, Dickenson, Emporia, Floyd, Galax, Grayson, Greensville, Halifax, Henry, Lee, Lunenburg, Martinsville, Mecklenburg, Norton, Nottoway, Patrick, Pittsylvania, Prince Edward, Russell, Scott, Smyth, Southampton, Tazewell, Washington, Wise, Wythe
Albemarle, Amelia, Ashland, Bowling Green, Buckingham, Caroline, Charles City, Charlottesville, Chester, Chesterfield, Colonial Heights, Culpeper, Crozet, Cumberland, Dinwiddie, Earlysville, Fluvanna, Glen Allen, Goochland, Greene, Hanover, Henrico, Hopewell, King & Queen, King William, Locust Grove, Louisa, Petersburg, Richmond, Madison, Maidens, Midlothian, Moseley, Nelson, New Kent, Orange, Powhatan, Prince George, Rappahannock, Sandston, Sussex, Woodford
Afton, Alleghany, Amherst, Appomattox, Augusta, Bath, Bedford, Blacksburg, Botetourt, Buchanan, Buena Vista, Campbell, Cave, Christiansburg, Covington, Craig, Eagle Rock, Elkton, Fincastle, Fishersville, Forest, Franklin, Frederick, Giles, Glade Hill, Gore, Hardy, Harrisonburg, Highland, Hurt, Lexington, Lynchburg, McGaheysville, Montgomery, Natural Bridge, Page, Penn Laird, Pulaski, Radford, Roanoke, Rockbridge, Rockingham, Rocky Mount, Salem, Shenandoah, Staunton, Star Tannery, Stephen’s City, Troutville, Union Hall, Vinton, Waynesboro, Weyer’s Cave, Winchester
Aldie, Alexandria, Arlington, Ashburn, Bealeton, Bristow, Burke, Catlett, Centreville,  Chantilly, Clarke, Dumfries, Fairfax, Fairfax Station, Falls Church, Fauquier, Fredericksburg, Gainesville, Hamilton, Haymarket, Herndon, Lindsay Court, Lorton, Loudon, Lovettsville, Manassas, Manassas Park,  McLean,  Midland, Oak Hill, Oakton, Prince William, Purcellville, Reston, Round Hill, Spotsylvania, Springfield, Stafford, Sterling, Triangle, Vienna, Warren, Waterford, Woodbridge

Contest Questions?