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Students win scholarships in Comptroller poster contest
Picture Perfect

Three grand prize winners in the Texas Tomorrow Funds poster contest will receive four-year Texas Guaranteed Tuition Plan scholarships to any Texas public university, and seven runners-up will receive one-year Texas Guaranteed Tuition Plan community college scholarships.

Entries in the Texas Tomorrow Funds poster contest reflect the hopes and dreams of students across the state who, for a chance to win college scholarships, artfully depicted what they want to be after college.

"Every year, the Texas Tomorrow Funds poster contest attracts thousands of entries from talented and creative kids throughout Texas," says Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn. "Our children dream of becoming teachers, doctors, scientists and military heroes, and a Texas Guaranteed Tuition Plan scholarship can help turn those dreams into reality."

This year, the contest drew more than 7,000 entries, says Sheila Clancy, spokesperson for the Comptroller's office.

Best in show
Nova Hou, a fourth-grade student at Lexington Creek Elementary in Missouri City, who mapped out a career as a conservationist, and Darcy Ripley, an eighth-grade student at Fort Stockton Middle School in Fort Stockton, who painted a future as an artist, were the grand prize winners in the elementary school and middle/junior high school categories. The scholarships they will receive were sponsored by Farmers Insurance and Belo Corp.

John Hageman, president of the Farmers Texas Companies, says Farmers has a lengthy history of supporting education.

"Farmers believes that anything we can do to promote the education of our youth has a lasting positive effect on the economy of Texas and, of course, the U.S.," Hageman says.

Casey Hedemann, a fifth-grade student at Olsen Elementary in Port Aransas who dreams of becoming a herpetologist, was the grand prize winner of the Intel Math, Science, Engineering and Technology (IMSET) scholarship. This category was open to contestants whose entries illustrate a career in a technical or scientific field.

Casey's mother, Annette Hedemann, says Casey has always been fascinated by all creatures scaled and clawed and says the whole family was thrilled to learn that Casey was the grand-prize winner for the IMSET scholarship.

"She has always been geared toward biology in general, and she has always had 'herp' pets," Hedemann says. "Most of the animals in the picture were or are her pets."

Casey's latest specimen, an Australian bearded dragon named Griffin, is featured at the top of Casey's drawing, Hedemann says.

A head start
Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Texas and Fannie Mae sponsor one-year community college scholarships for four runners-up in the elementary school category and three runners-up in the middle/junior high school category.

The elementary school runners-up were James Aguero from Drew Academy in Houston, Luis Garcia from San Luis Elementary in Eagle Pass, Rebecca Lemker from Magnolia Elementary in Magnolia and Cynthia Ramirez from John W. Arndt Elementary in Laredo.

The middle school runners-up were Matthew Pinkey from Hendrick Middle School in Plano, Ashley Rumfield from Frenship Junior High in Wolfforth and Jordan Williams from Athens Middle School in Athens.

Dream a little dream
The Texas Tomorrow Funds poster contest encourages young Texans to think about their future, Clancy says.

"It gets them thinking about what they want to be," she says. "Most of the well-paying jobs of the future require education beyond high school. [The contest] gets them thinking early about going to college and what it takes to get there."

This year's drawings reflect the youths' awareness of global events such as the war in Iraq and the shuttle explosion, Clancy says.

"This year the kids were obviously influenced by world events," she says. "We saw more military and space shuttle pictures."

A Texas Guaranteed Tuition Plan from the Texas Tomorrow Funds helps make it possible for Texas youth to realize their educational ambitions by allowing families to set up a flexible, affordable plan to prepay their children's college tuition and required fees at today's prices. The state of Texas guarantees to cover those expenses when the child is ready to attend college, no matter how much costs may increase over time.

"I feel that the Texas Tomorrow Funds (TTFs) is a tremendous program," Hageman says. "The TTFs not only gives visibility to higher education, it lets the parents of young Texans know there are alternative and economical ways to finance the huge expense of higher education.

"The TTFs makes college possible for many who otherwise could not afford to attend," he says.

Angela Freeman