From Migrant Worker to Award Winner St. Edward's University Student Wins Grand Prize Award for Documentary Film
Arnulfo Hernandez, a 21-year-old from Pharr, Texas took top honors recently in Fort Worth as the Grand Prize Winner of the Reel Life Video Contest, sponsored by the State of Texas' College for Texans Campaign. The video competition was open to all college students in Texas to create stories that show how people have overcome obstacles to get into college. Twenty-one other college filmmakers from across Texas also won recognition by the competition.
Hernandez, who is a graduating senior in Communications at St. Edward's University in Austin, received the Grand Prize for a documentary video entitled "Harvesting a Dream," that chronicles his return visit to the fields of the Rio Grande Valley where he helped his family pick crops as a boy. His parents attended the awards ceremony at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth.
In addition, Adam Mitchell, a recent graduate from St. Edward's University, was awarded second place in the "experimental video" category for his entry entitled "Doors."
"We know that video is a powerful way to reach other young people, and we wanted to encourage college students to tell their stories," said Don W. Brown, Commissioner of Higher Education. "Parents and students need to know that college can be affordable and that a college degree greatly increases earning power."
"If my documentary film inspires someone to overcome their personal challenges to go to college, that would really make the painfulness of retelling my story worth it, "said Hernandez.
The winning videos will be shown in high schools across the state as part of the effort by the College for Texans Campaign to encourage more students to prepare for and attend college.
"More than $2 billion in scholarships, grants, and loans are available each year to send Texans to college," said Brown. "We want to make sure that students and parents know that it's there, and how to get it."
If the state's participation rate in college declines, Texas will become a less educated, less prosperous state – unable to attract or retain the best jobs. If this trend continues, Texas stands to lose more than $60 billion in lost wages by 2040, according to projections.
To reverse this trend, the College for Texans Campaign is aiming to enroll by 2015 an additional 300,000 academically prepared people into Texas higher education. That is 300,000 beyond the 200,000 enrollment growth already expected, based on trends of the 1990s.