Words to be Heard Scholarship Contest: Judges' Spotlight

College Scholarship Contest Judging

The results are in for our 2015 "Words to be Heard" Scholarship Contest, and the winners have been announced. Now we'd like to introduce our panel of community judges, who had the difficult task of selecting just three winners out of more than 200 entries.

Each judge does amazing things to make our community a safer place, and we were honored to have them as a part of our 2015 scholarship contest.

Meet Our Judges

Debra Iwaniec

iwaniec family

Debra Iwaniec is the President of the Trooper Iwaniec Memorial Foundation. Her son, Kenton Iwaniec, was a Pennsylvania State Trooper whose vehicle was hit head-on by a drunk driver while heading home after his shift on March 27, 2008. Two hours after the accident, Trooper Iwaniec passed away. To learn more about Kenton and his story, please visit the Trooper Kenton Iwaniec website.

Since his death, Trooper Iwaniec's family has worked tirelessly to fight drunk driving in his honor. They have developed a number of programs, including the Takeoff Memorial 5K/10K Race and the Trooper Kenton Sporting Clay Event. The proceeds from both of these events go toward purchasing breathalyzers for law enforcement agencies. Our law firm is a proud sponsor of the Takeoff Race, which is held every April in Latrobe, PA.

Ms. Iwaniec, who is also a health and education teacher at Yough High School, says that getting people of all ages involved in the fight against drunk driving is crucial. "DUIs have no limits. Young, old, it knows no race or age. It could be anybody. The faster the word gets out there, the better chance you have of saving one life."

Trooper Robin M. Mungo

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State Trooper Robin Mungo is a Public Relations Officer with the Pennsylvania State Police, Troop B Pittsburgh. In her role, she is responsible for creating relationships between law enforcement agencies, public officials, and community organizations.

She gives presentations on law enforcement initiatives and safety issues – including safe driving – to a wide variety of organizations.

"Being a part of the judging is very refreshing," says Trooper Mungo. "Seeing the creativity our young people have and the passion they put in the message is wonderful. We always wonder if they are listening to what we say, and now we know they are!"

Trooper Mungo is also the director of Allegheny County Camp Cadet, a free summer camp for Pennsylvania youths that gives them a better understanding of law enforcement activities. People interested in learning more can visit the Camp Cadet website. Our law firm is proud to be a sponsor for Camp Cadet. We provide bike helmets for the campers to wear as they take their annual ride from Camp Guyasuta in O'Hara Township to the North Shore.

Brady Sheehan

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Brady was one of our scholarship recipients in 2013. His winning entry was an interactive website called "The Safe Driving Haven." It featured statistics about teen auto accidents, prevention tips, and links to helpful resources.

"I truly enjoyed being involved as a participant in the scholarship contest. Now, as a judge, I play a role in helping other students further their educational goals while still advocating for safe driving practices."

Brady is now a student at Duquesne University, where he has continued to use his web development and peer mentoring talents. He is a double major in Mathematics and Computer Science, is president of the Computer Science Club, and is a Resident Advisor at Duquesne.

Deputy Jason Tarap

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Deputy Tarap is a Crime Prevention Specialist for the Allegheny County Sheriff's Office. The Crime Prevention Office offers programs that cover a broad range of topics, from law enforcement to safety. Their programs include seat belt safety and education, bicycle safety, car seat safety, crime prevention for people with disabilities, and more. In 2008, Deputy Tarap was named Pennsylvania's Crime Prevention Officer of the Year.

He has acted as a judge in our scholarship contest for the past several years. According to Deputy Tarap, "The talents that the participants show are a shining example of our future leaders. Reviewing, listening to, and watching the entries is very important to me. As a Law Enforcement Officer for over 20 years, it's great to see the fantastic peer mentoring of these brilliant young minds. "

You can learn more about the Sheriff Office's Crime Prevention services on their website.

Chris Vitale MSN, RN

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Chris Vitale works as the Injury Prevention Manager at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC and is the Program Coordinator for Injury Free Coalition for Kids. During her career, she has worked with children and families in local schools and communities to implement programs focusing on drug and alcohol prevention and intervention, violence prevention, grief and loss counseling, and more.

Ms. Vitale's experience has given her valuable insight into the effects of drunk driving. She says, "My entire career at Children's Hospital has been in trauma, and I've seen the effect risky decisions can make on the life of a teenager."

Why does she believe the scholarship competition is so important? "I have seen the impact that teens can have on their peers; I've learned there is no better way to get a message to teens than to have it delivered by teens. Edgar Snyder & Associates is very community focused and truly cares about making a difference in the lives of teenagers. I am always recharged about the difference teenagers can make after the Words to be Heard competition."

Thank You to Our Scholarship Participants

We'd like to say thank you again to all of the talented students who took the time to participate in our scholarship contest. We wish you the best of luck next year! And thank you to our judges, who do so much to make our community a safer place for everyone.

If you're interested in learning more about our scholarship contest and other community initiatives to stop unsafe driving, please visit the Drive Safe section of our website.

And, if you or a loved one is ever hurt in a drunk driving accident, we're here to help and are available 24/7.

"Couple whose son, 24, was killed by a drunken driver talks to DUI offenders." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. April 9, 2009. Photo: "Deputy Jason Tarap and Sheriff Jon Held thanked the riders for their support of this heartwarming cause." CBS Local. September 9, 2012.
Photo: "Teens put their driving to the test during safety competition." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. April 3, 2014.