Freshman’s school pride earns her $10K scholarship
Published: Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, August 22, 2012 16:08
For freshman Mackenzie Chase, attending UCF was a symbol of family tradition and pride — a symbol that helped her earn $10,000. Chase was the recipient of this year’s first Sallie Mae Picture of Pride photo contest, a scholarship opportunity that launched in May. Chase was shocked upon hearing the news.
“It was pretty crazy,” Chase said. “I really wasn’t expecting to win it at all. Part of [the decision] was based on votes, a part on the judges. I didn’t get the most votes, but they picked mine over hers. We were really excited.”
College students who planned to attend school this fall or the parents of current college students were eligible to submit original photos they thought best represented their college spirit and family pride. Entries were submitted to the Sallie Mae company Facebook page until June 30 and then Facebook users were invited to vote on their favorite photos. Judges then decided which of the top photos would earn the grand prize.
Debby Hohler, Sallie Mae director of corporate communications, said that the Picture of Pride scholarship opportunity was a welcome addition to the Sallie Mae scholarship pool, which distributes more than three million scholarships worth more than $16 billion.
“This was the first time we started the program,” Hohler said. “We wanted to do something fun and engaging that would get people energized about the upcoming school year and build our presence in both a fun and meaningful way.”
Hohler said that the company runs different scholarships throughout the year, matching students specifically to scholarships they may qualify for on the Sallie Mae website, www.salliemae.com/scholarships. Hohler saw the Picture of Pride contest as yet another avenue to gauge creativity among families.
“We were really excited to see so many different ways [people create],” Hohler said. “It’s amazing just how a simple picture can really articulate a message, and we had hundreds of students and parents come together. A lot of times we saw families do this together, such as Mackenzie’s case. Sometimes it was clearly a group effort. We were just amazed how many people came out and submitted photos and the wide range of ways they showed their school spirit.”
Hohler said runner-up submissions for the contest were not announced.
Chase’s picture involved several members of her family, including her brother, parents and grandparents, all holding up their own “signs” of UCF spirit. The labels said things like “Retired UCF Employee,” “UCF Alumni,” or in Chase’s case, “Upcoming Freshman.”
Chase, a biomedical sciences major with a minor in international studies, felt immense relief from her financial stresses upon receiving the scholarship in late July. With plans to attend medical school and eventually pursue a career in pediatric medicine, in addition to Chase’s involvement as a pledge for her sorority Kappa Alpha Theta, $10,000 couldn’t hurt.
“It definitely makes paying for college easier, especially when I start applying to med school,” Chase said.
Martha Holler, senior vice president of Sallie Mae, felt Chase captured the essence of school spirit in her photo submission.
“Parents, college students and, in Mackenzie’s case, grandparents, came together sharing touching images representing their college journey,” Holler said in a July press release. “We’re thrilled to help her carry on the Chase family legacy at UCF.”
Hohler was also impressed at Chase’s ability to connect her UCF pride with others through her submission.
“She did an amazing job bringing the different generations of her family together to display the utmost UCF spirit,” Hohler said. “We had hundreds of people submitting their photos to showcase their spirit, but she went above and beyond [and] really articulated three generations of school spirit. It’s amazing to be able to help someone like her attend school and achieve her dream. We’re really excited to have someone like Mackenzie win.”
For now, Chase plans to use her scholarship as a resource for her tuition, housing and textbooks. The contest will be a reminder for Chase of her family’s school spirit and UCF pride.
“I tried to show as much pride as I could by getting signs and decorations [and] by telling who was who and how UCF influenced them. Everyone at UCF has so much pride and I felt really honored to represent us. I know the school has pride, but I wasn’t sure everyone else did. I think that showing in the picture how much pride my family had [helped to represent UCF].”