May 15, 2014, Pittsburgh, PA - The term "to google," used as a verb, has been included in the dictionary since 2006. And with ample access to computers and smartphones, "googling" has become a daily part of life. North Allegheny High School Senior Zachary Nimmo understood this, and saw it as a creative way to illustrate a very serious message to his peers.
Nimmo, a North Hills resident, was selected as the grand-prize winner of the Edgar Snyder & Associates "Words to be Heard" Scholarship Contest for an anti-drunk driving PSA that uses Google searches to tell the story of a drunk driving accident. Attorney Edgar Snyder, whose law firm helps victims of drunk driving accidents, personally presented the scholarship awards to students and their parents at a dinner held on May 12th in their honor.
"Words to be Heard" challenges students across Western PA to create projects 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 any other creative format of their choice. Since the contest's inception in 2007, the law firm has awarded 70 scholarships totaling over $100,000.
Nimmo's video uses a montage of Google search queries and dramatic music to tell one teen's story through his search path. It starts out innocent enough, with searches for "fun party games" and "how to make a fake ID." Soon, however, frantic searches for "stopping bleeding" and "NEAREST HOSPITAL" appear, telling of a tragic end to the night.
"I first saw the Google search story concept a few years ago in an advertisement for Google, and I thought it was really clever," said Nimmo. "I knew that I could do something similar and add my own touches to make a powerful and suspenseful story that really highlights the catastrophic consequences of drunk driving."
Fortunately, Nimmo has never personally known anyone involved in a drunk driving accident. However, he does have one memory that left a profound impact on him. "I once had a scary experience in which I was the first car to pull up to an overturned car with the driver, who I believe had been drinking, inside," he says. "Within two minutes, there was a huge line of traffic behind me, so because I was the first one at the scene, the accident must have happened only moments before I got there."
After researching the issue of drunk driving and texting while driving, Nimmo says he realized these are only two of many accident causes. "People regard these two factors as the main reasons for accidents, but I've come to realize that there is so much more; anything from eating while driving to loud music can affect your ability to drive safely, so it's necessary to be extra cautious when you're on the road."
Anything from eating while driving to loud music can affect your ability to drive safely, so it's necessary to be extra cautious when you're on the road.Zachary Nimmo, "Words to be Heard" Scholarship recipient
The winners of the "Words to be Heard" Scholarship Contest were selected during a luncheon at the offices of Edgar Snyder & Associates by a panel of judges who advocate teen safety in their communities: Debra Iwaniec, President of the Trooper Iwaniec Memorial Foundation and Health & Physical Education Teacher at Yough High School; Trooper Robin M. Mungo, PR Officer of the PA State Police, Troop B Pittsburgh; Brady Sheehan, Duquesne University Student and 2013 Words to be Heard Scholarship winner; Deputy Jason Tarap, Crime Prevention Specialist, Allegheny County Sheriff's Office; and Chris Vitale MSN, RN, Injury Prevention Manager at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.
"Year after year I am blown away by the new ways students present this message to make it resonate with their peers," says Attorney Edgar Snyder. "I think the biggest benefit to the students isn't the scholarship money itself, but the conversations started about the dangers of drunk driving and texting while driving."
Nimmo plans to attend the College of William and Mary next fall, majoring in Chemistry on a Pre-Med track.
Six other winners were recognized for their submissions at the dinner ceremony: Three scholarships for $2,500 were awarded to Taylor Hanson of Greensburg Central Catholic High School (Westmoreland Co.), Ryan King of Bishop McCort High School (Cambria Co.), and Whitney Shetler of Chestnut Ridge High School (Bedford Co.). Three $1,000 scholarships went to Taylor Childers of Thomas Jefferson High School (Allegheny Co.), Amber Machosky of Albert Gallatin Area High School (Fayette Co.), and Allyn Propheter of Maplewood High School (Crawford Co.).
View all of the winning entries and learn more about the "Words to be Heard" Scholarship Contest here.
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