The American Fire Sprinkler Association’s (AFSA) two online scholarship contests – the High School Senior Contest and Second Chance Contest – have once again reached thousands with the message that automatic sprinkler systems save lives and property. During the past year 523,030 people visited the scholarship website to learn about the history of fire sprinklers, how they operate, where they are used, careers in the industry and related organizations.
The late Bob McCullough who served as 1995-1997 AFSA Chairman of the Board originally introduced the pro- gram. Begun in 1996 as an essay-submitted application judged by industry volunteers, the annual contest grew so large that an online essay and test seemed a better fit. Providing an educational essay about fire sprinklers and an online test opened the doors for many more students to read about sprinklers and the industry. The first online contest garnered 10,400 entries, compared to an average of only about 1,000 per year when students entered with written essays. In addition, thousands more visited the online site, and even if they did not enter the contest, they undoubtedly left with a positive message about fire sprinklers.
Seniors and Sprinklers
More than 69,800 high school seniors from across the United States entered the 2014- 2015 high school contest – up 10,000 entries from the previous year. The winners for the high school contests are randomly selected. The 10 national winners – each receiving a $2,000 scholarship to their chosen college, university or certified trade school – are: Clara Cohoon, Prosper, Texas; Miranda Hyatt, Pullman, Washington; Zachary Like, Little Rock, Arkansas; Carlos Menzie, Bridgeport, Connecticut; Aaron Pietraallo, Magnolia, North Carolina; Hayley Rein, Brooklyn, New York; Ashley Milan, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; Shana Smith, Pembroke Pines, Florida; Krystelle Thomas, Queens, New York; and Veronica Werve, Kempner, Texas.
Werve wrote to AFSA after her high school presented her with a certificate showing her scholarship award.
“It was an exciting evening and I thought I would share this special moment with you as a thank you to the American Fire Sprinkler Association,” wrote Werve. “I am so honored to be the recipient of your scholarship and thank you so much for bringing my future goals closer to me.”
For both contests, applicants are required to read a passage about fire sprinklers – which describes their history, how they operate to save lives and property, and the types of careers that are available in the industry – and take a 10-question reading comprehension test. For each question answered correctly, the student receives one entry into a drawing for one of the scholar- ships. A total of 10 entries per appli- cant are possible, and winners are selected by a computer-generated random drawing.
Second Chance Scholarships
AFSA’s Second Chance Contest has also proven to be an effective way to educate the public about automatic fire sprinklers. In 2010, AFSA’s Fire Sprinkler Public Education & Awareness Committee recommended the contest to reach an audience beyond those students entering the popular high school contest. The Second Chance Contest can be entered by any U.S. citizen who has graduated from high school or earned a GED and opens AFSA’s reach to such groups as returning military and people who need training to change careers or reenter the workforce. It offers five $1,000 scholarships. This year’s contest ran April 22 through August 26 and 10,628 entered.
The five “Second Chance” winners for the 2015 contest were randomly selected. Second chance students follow the same rules and procedure for entering. For each question answered correctly, the student receives one entry into a drawing for one of the scholarships. A total of 10 entries per applicant into the drawing are possible. This year’s winners are Jamila Robinson, Mauldin, South Carolina; Carla Sanchez, Tallahassee, Florida; Jessica Owens, Jackson, Mississippi; Chang-Yu Jonathan Wu, Tigard, Oregon; and Jake Morgan, Thousand Oaks, California.
Maria Daniels, a 2014 winner of the second chance contest and a student at Elmhurst College in Elmhurst, Illinois, recently wrote to AFSA: “I am wrapping up my spring semester … I want to express my appreciation for your generous scholarship and let you know how grateful I am to have been selected. Thank you again and I still think having fire and sprinkler systems are beneficial and save lives,” she commented.
“School is going well. I recently filled out my request for graduation evaluation. I have two semesters left to receive a bachelor’s in psychology with a minor in social work. I am so excited and am looking forward to continuing my academic journey,” Daniels stated.
The Georgia Fire Sprinkler Association (GFSA) contest took place January 27-March 10, 2015. This year’s winners are First Place: Andia Shamsaie of Milton High School ($1,500 scholarship); Second Place: Chandler Drew Wilson of Stephens County High School ($1,000 scholarship); and Third Place: Kingston Handley of Chamblee Charter High School ($750 scholarship).
The scholarships will be paid directly to the educational institution in the student’s account. The topic for the state contest’s essay was “What are the pros and cons of requiring fire sprinklers to be installed in all new single family housing constructed in the state of Georgia?” Information on the 2016 contest will be posted in January 2016 on the association’s website at georgiafiresprinkler.org. The GFSA State Scholarship Essay Contest is open to high school seniors in Georgia who plan to further their education at a college/university or certified trade school in the United States.
More Scholarships Available
The 2015-2016 high school contest is open online for high school seniors and runs through 12:00 p.m. Central time April 6, 2016. Nearly 10,000 high school seniors have already entered! The Second Chance Contest will open again in the summer of 2016. Relatives of AFSA staff and board members may not enter. Further information on both contests can be found on AFSA’s scholarship website, afsascholarship.org.