Windber teen Katey Ladika was named as the $2,500 runner-up of the 2015 Edgar Snyder & Associates "Words to be Heard" Scholarship Contest. The contest, in its 9th year, challenged Pennsylvania high school seniors to create projects to help fight underage drinking, drunk driving, or texting while driving.
Katey, a senior at Forest Hills High School, submitted a series of dramatic photographs depicting the risks posed by distracted driving. Each photo is framed like a motivational poster and is paired with text offering a sobering warning to young drivers.
"I tried to add a focus aspect on each photograph that may not be as noticeable," Katey said. "For example, in one poster the father is holding a toy car. In another, the window farthest from the light bulb is dark, whereas the window closest shows growth and vegetation."
This is not the first time Katey has been recognized for her photography. Self-described as avant-garde in style, her unique approach has earned her numerous awards in photography and art competitions. "As an artist, I find it necessary for me to find my own voice… my style is something completely personal to me."
Since its inception in 2007, the scholarship program has granted over $100,000 in scholarships. The law firm also sponsors additional safe driving initiatives, including the Edgar Snyder & Associates Save a Life Tour, which allows students at local schools to experience the dangers of drunk driving and distracted driving using state-of-the-art simulators.
"At our law firm, we see firsthand the ways drunk driving and distracted driving can ruin lives," said Attorney Edgar Snyder. "That's why it's vital to encourage young people to use their passion and creativity in ways that raise awareness about these dangers."
Katey plans to use her scholarship toward a degree in Digital Studio and Multimedia, which she hopes will equip her for a career in television upon graduation. She is still choosing between schools to attend this fall.
"I hope students, teens, adults even understand that the messages I'm portraying are true. A person can lose their license, can mess up their future, and can end up in the obituaries if they do not pay attention while driving," said Katey. "I hope people become inspired by the work I create to take the time to turn off their phones when they get behind the wheel because if they don't, they may end up in a situation they really didn't want to be in."
A person can lose their license, can mess up their future, and can end up in the obituaries if they do not pay attention while driving.Katey Ladika, Scholarship Contest Winner
Katey's project was selected from over 200 entries submitted this year. A panel of community judges reviewed and voted on a selection of finalists at a luncheon held at the offices of Edgar Snyder & Associates. The panel included: Debra Iwaniec, President of the Trooper Iwaniec Memorial Foundation and Health & Physical Education Teacher at Yough High School; Trooper Robin M. Mungo, Public Relations 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 for the Allegheny County Sheriff's Office; and Chris Vitale MSN, RN, Injury Prevention Manager at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.
Two other students were also awarded scholarships. Emma Badams of Collegiate Academy in Erie won the grand prize of $10,000 and Heather Rose of Franklin Regional in Murrysville won $5,000. To view the winning entries and to learn more about the Edgar Snyder & Associates "Words to be Heard" Scholarship Contest click here.
Edgar Snyder & Associates is a plaintiff's personal injury law firm representing people hurt in all types of accidents. The firm also represents injured workers and people who are disabled and in need of Social Security disability benefits. Office locations include Pittsburgh, Altoona, Ebensburg, Erie and Johnstown, Pennsylvania.