Grad Student and High School Senior Give Winning Advice in Starving Student Scholarship

Congratulations to Daniel Taxy and Haleigh Hitzing, the winners of Learn.org's Starving Student Scholarship! We selected Daniel, a graduate student in psychology, as our grand prize winner based on his fantastic money-saving tips. Haleigh, a high school senior, won our bonus $500 prize for receiving the most 'likes' on her money-saving tip posted on our Facebook wall. Read on to learn more about our winners, their career plans and their thrifty advice!

The two winners of Learn.org's Starving Student Scholarship could hardly be more different: Daniel Taxy is in the final year of his doctorate degree in psychology, while Haleigh Hitzing is a high school senior headed away to college this fall. But Daniel and Haleigh are strikingly similar in at least one key regard: both display a keen awareness of the impact of money - or lack thereof - on even the most passionate degree-seeking student. Congratulations, Daniel and Haleigh!

Thinking Outside the Textbook-Filled Cardboard Box

Daniel Taxy

Daniel, a graduate student at Alliant International University currently looking for jobs in community mental health, is our $1,000 grand prize winner. We asked all entrants to submit a money-saving tip for students, and we chose Daniel's answer as our winning response because we felt it truly embodied the spirit of 'Starving Student.' He gave creative, practical (and humorous) advice on how to save money by reusing things students already own:

'Remember to think outside the box when looking at old stuff. Torn clothes can turn into dishrags or blankets, a bit of plywood can make old furniture useable and out-of-date textbooks can be used as mousepads or, (if you have enough of them) can even be turned into a makeshift coffee table, although it helps if you stack them inside an old cardboard box first. Plus, you never have to worry about having coffee table books. And if you have the knowledge, it's much, much cheaper to upgrade your computer with new parts than to buy a new laptop.'

When we asked Daniel about the structural integrity of his textbook coffee table, he said it was sturdy enough: 'Paper is basically wood.' Daniel's sense of humor and cheerful approach to pinching pennies as a student impressed us: 'There's this thing that happens when you go to graduate school called Crippling Student Loan Debt,' he said with a laugh when we asked him about his future career plans. He hopes to have his debt absolved by working for ten years in a public mental health facility, and plans to use his scholarship funds to buy a few new suits to wear to job interviews. We wish him the best of luck!

Determined and Thinking Ahead

Haleigh Hitzing

Our $500 prize winner, Haleigh Hitzing, used her wide social network to rally family and friends to give her the highest number of 'likes' for her money-saving tip posted on our Facebook wall. Haleigh isn't your typical high school senior: still months away from high school graduation, she's already earned an associate's degree from a community college near her hometown in Florida! 'It was really difficult, but I just focused on school,' said Haleigh. 'That's always been the number one priority, so I just made it happen.' Haleigh really impressed us with her motivation and determination. She's been a science fair winner, a yearbook editor and a class president. She's accomplished all of this while working since she was 16, and thinks that earning her own money has made her more conscious of spending it.

She finds social expenses take up the lion's share of her budget, and gives some great advice for having fun without breaking the bank: 'As a young student my social life, like most, is one of my top priorities! I try my hardest for everything I do to involve my friends. From food to fun friends assist in reducing living expenses. Instead of going to big ticket concerts or spending money on pricey restaurants, spend an evening hanging out in a friend's dorm room with cheap snacks and board games! Clothes are another large expense of mine, instead of going to the mall and wasting money on clothes I won't wear after the season, I try to swap with my friends!'

This fall, Haleigh will be starting with junior standing at the University of Central Florida. She plans on majoring in communications and hopes for a career in TV journalism. Her $500 in scholarship funds will go toward housing expenses. We're sure she'll continue to be successful in this next phase of her college experience!

Congratulations to Our Winners!

Haleigh's advice rings true for a lot of young students struggling to balance school with a social life. And like Daniel, her tips are practical, grounded and demonstrate how small but meaningful changes in daily spending can save students some serious cash. We're happy to help these outstandingly thoughtful students with their toughest living expenses. Once again, congratulations!

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