May 15, 2014, Pittsburgh, PA – – "What would your family picture be without you?" This is one of the questions posed by an anti-drunk driving PSA created by Albert Gallatin Area senior Amber Machosky. The video project won her a $1,000 award in this year's Edgar Snyder & Associates "Words to be Heard" Scholarship Contest.
"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.
Machosky, a resident of Smithfield, produced a video that gives a sobering reminder of the risk of getting behind the wheel drunk. The video opens with scenes from a party interlaced with drunk driving statistics. But, it's not long until the party atmosphere and music comes to an abrupt stop.
The teens, who had been enjoying drinks at the party just moments before, get into a graphic car accident and EMS rush to the scene. The remainder of the video shows a life that could have been, using a photomontage of moments from the life of one of the young women involved in the accident. In one of the family photos, the young woman's photo is faded out.
The family picture used in the video was of Machosky and her family at Senior Night. "It's hard to imagine my family taking pictures without me being there," she said.
Machosky saw the impact that drunk driving had on friends of friends who had gone through a similar experience. Although the story in her video was fictitious, the emotions and issues raised are very real to those acquainted with loss due to drunk driving.
"Life is something serious, and you shouldn't waste it on just going out and having fun—if that's what they think it is. Its not really worth it," she said.
"Life is something serious, and you shouldn't waste it on just going out and having fun—if that's what they think it is. Its not really worth it.Amber Machosky
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.
Attorney Edgar Snyder personally presented Machosky with the scholarship at an awards dinner Monday. This year will mark the 70th scholarship given by the firm, totaling over $100,000 since the program's inception in 2007.
"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."
Machosky plans to attend California University of Pennsylvania this fall for Graphic Design and Multimedia.
"It was a meaningful project, and great to be able to earn scholarship money for something I like to do," she said.
Six other winners were recognized for their submissions at the dinner ceremony: Zachary Nimmo of North Allegheny High School (Allegheny Co.) took home the grand-prize scholarship of $5,000. 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.). Two additional $1,000 scholarships went to Taylor Childers of Thomas Jefferson High School (Allegheny Co.) and Allyn Propheter of Maplewood High School (Crawford Co.).
View the winning entries and learn more about the Edgar Snyder & Associates "Words to be Heard" Scholarship Contest here.
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