Pittsburgh, PA – Indiana County teen Benjamin Crawford has heard it before: If you drink and drive, you put yourself and others at risk. But what about the people who aren't on the road?
Answering that question earned Benjamin $5,000 in scholarship funds.
Benjamin, a senior at Purchase Line Junior/Senior High School and a resident of Clymer (Indiana County), was awarded $5,000 after being named runner-up of the 2016 Edgar Snyder & Associates "Words to Be Heard" Scholarship Contest.
Benjamin's video follows two men over the course of one night: one, a loving brother driving home to his family, and the other, a young man deciding whether or not to drive home drinking. The video ends with a crash caused by the drunk driver, showing the effects drinking and driving can have not only on those on the road, but also the families of those hurt.
Benjamin, who appears in his video entry with his own real-life foster siblings, says that thinking of his own family helped to inspire the storyline of his submission.
The scholarship contest, in its 10th year, challenged high school seniors from Western and Central Pennsylvania to create projects that discourage other teens from drunk driving and texting while driving. Since 2007, Edgar Snyder & Associates has granted 80 scholarships amounting to over $100,000 in scholarship money.
"One of the hallmarks of this scholarship contest is that it allows high school students to use their own voices," said Attorney Edgar Snyder. "Young people learn a lot from their peers, and when a peer warns you about the dangers of distracted driving, it can be that much more effective."
Benjamin agrees that it's advantageous to have a teen share the "don't drink and drive" message to other teens. "Adults caution against it so often that the message carries a different tone coming from a teenager like myself," he said. "When these presentations are created from the eyes of a teen, the message is simply more relatable for others."
Benjamin will use his scholarship to help attend George Washington University, in Washington, DC, this fall. He plans to study computer science, and hopes to counter cyber terrorism in his future career.
Benjamin's entry was one of three selected as winners out of over 150 entries. Finalists in the scholarship contest were reviewed by and voted on by a panel of community judges at the Pittsburgh-area office 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; Kathy Strotmeyer, Southwestern Pennsylvania Injury Prevention Coordinator, American Academy of Pediatrics; Deputy Jason Tarap, Crime Prevention Specialist for the Allegheny 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: Gabrielle Stewart of Clarion Area High School (Clarion County) won the $10,000 grand prize and Kurlya Yan of Franklin Regional High School (Westmoreland County) won $2,500. To view all of the winning entries and to learn more about the Edgar Snyder & Associates "Words to be Heard" Scholarship Contest, visit www.edgarsnyder.com/scholarship.