May 21, 2013, Pittsburgh, PA – Bellefonte Area senior Michael Trowbridge was selected as a winner of the Edgar Snyder "Words to be Heard" Scholarship Contest for his video about the risks of texting while driving.
The contest challenges students across Western PA to create programs discouraging their peers from underage drinking, drunk driving, or texting while driving. Students had the option of submitting entries in the form of videos, PowerPoint presentations, websites, essays, or the creative format of their choice.
Trowbridge, who has been taking video classes since his sophomore year, focused his project on texting and driving. "I chose the topic mainly because it's so relevant, especially in high school. You see it all the time with kids. They just don't think about the consequences because it seems trivial. I wanted to show that it's not a trivial matter."
They just don't think about the consequences because it seems trivial. I wanted to show that it's not a trivial matter.
Attorney Edgar Snyder personally presented Trowbridge with the $1,000 scholarship at an awards dinner Monday. Prior to the dinner, Sheehan and the other scholarship recipients participated in a live Google Plus Hangout with Attorney Snyder to talk about the inspiration behind their projects and future plans for college.
"The projects are extremely powerful," said Attorney Snyder. "We see the realities of what happens when people get in accidents, but I believe these students' presentations can really affect change."
"I hope that the next time they pull out their cell phone while driving they think for a minute, ‘what are the ramifications of what I'm doing?'" says Trowbridge, who plans to use the scholarship toward his study of mechanical engineering at Penn State. "You are making a choice at that second. Is that the choice you want to make?"
More than 300 entries were submitted and were judged by a panel of teen safety advocates: Corporal Christopher Murray of the PA State Police, Maddie Seel, a junior at Shaler Area High School, Deputy Sheriff Jason Tarap of the Allegheny County Sherrif's Office, and Chris Vitale, manager of the injury prevention program at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh UPMC.
"They all covered the information really well. But what is interesting is how they came up with different ways to tell their story in a personal way," said Vitale, a second-year judge for the competition. "They seem much older than high school kids. There's a lot of wisdom that comes out in the projects that is always surprising."
Corporal Murray was especially impressed by the time and effort put into all of the projects. "It's encouraging that there are teens out there that recognize a problem and are doing something about it," he said.
Six other winners were recognized for their submissions at the dinner ceremony. Katherine Zhou of North Allegheny High School (Allegheny Co.) took home the grand-prize scholarship of $5,000. Three scholarships in the denomination of $2,500 were awarded to Matthew Clark of Pine-Richland High School (Allegheny Co.), Lindsay Spinabelli of Peters Township High School (Washington Co.), and Jesse Vensel of McGuffey High School (Washington Co.). Two additional $1,000 scholarships went to Alexandria Denne of Gateway Senior High School (Allegheny Co.) and Brady Sheehan of Windber Area High School (Somerset Co.).
Since the scholarship contest began in 2007, Edgar Snyder & Associates has awarded 63 scholarships totaling $86,000. To view the winning entries and to learn more about the Edgar Snyder & Associates "Words to be Heard" Scholarship Contest visit www.edgarsnyder.com/giving-back/drive-safe/scholarship/2013.