Five Oklahomans win $1,529, share their stories from “Making a Difference” essay contest
OKLAHOMA CITY – State Treasurer Ken Miller today announced the five winners of the Oklahoma 529 College Savings Plan’s inaugural “Making a Difference” essay contest during a ceremony in the Blue Room at the State Capitol building. As part of the essay contest, Miller awarded $1,529 toward each winner’s college savings account.
Miller, board chair for the Oklahoma 529 College Savings Plan (OCSP), said the contest’s goal is to illustrate the impact saving for college through the OCSP has on real Oklahoma families.
“For many families, the thought of their children or grandchildren attending college seems very distant,” he said. “But, when you hear a father’s story of wanting to provide his child with opportunities he may not otherwise have or a child’s appreciation for her mother’s foresight that led to her leaving college debt-free, you truly get a sense of the positive impact the Oklahoma College Savings Plan is having on many Oklahomans.”
Nearly 200 Oklahomans shared their stories describing the ways in which the OCSP has affected or will affect their lives. Treasurer Miller enlisted the help of legislators to judge the essays, which were categorized by the state’s five congressional districts. Fifty-five state legislators from both the House and Senate participated in the judging process.
During the ceremony, the winners participated in a roundtable discussion with Treasurer Miller and legislators to share their stories.
Stephanie Jackson of Broken Arrow was the winner from the First Congressional District. She is saving for her daughter’s college costs as a commitment she made following her husband’s death.
“This is just amazing and exciting,” says Stephanie Jackson, mother to Carrington and Oklahoma College Savings Plan owner. “I’m all about investing in Carrington’s future and helping her achieve her goal of becoming an engineer. I feel like it’s what I’m supposed to do as a parent.”
Mary Robinson, a nurse practitioner student from Calera, was the Second Congressional District winner.
“My parents started my account when I was a sophomore in high school,” Robinson said. “I now am the sole contributor to the account. The 529 College Savings Plan gave me the opportunity to complete my RN and BSN. And, I’m now enrolled online to finish my Family Nurse Practitioner Master’s Program. I recommend the program to all of my friends.”
In the Third Congressional District, Savannah Simon of Yukon was selected as the winner. She is a senior in college and plans to attend medical school.
“I am living proof that the Oklahoma 529 College Savings Plan does make a difference,” said Simon, Oklahoma 529 College Savings Plan beneficiary. “With college undergraduate graduation approaching in May, I will have achieved my first educational goal. My dream of becoming a doctor has been in place since I was ten years old. I will leave college with my undergraduate degree and no debt. My life will be forever changed because of my college education.”
Larry Steele of Norman was named the winner of the essay contest from the Fourth Congressional District. He is saving for his grandson’s college education.
“Receiving the $1,529 prize for our grandson's Oklahoma College Savings Plan account enhances our peace of mind,” said Steele, who has an Oklahoma College Savings Plan account setup for his grandson Trevor. “We know that whatever passion he chooses for learning in life will be within his reach because of the financial security the prize helps to provide."
The Fifth Congressional District winner is Steven Ireland of Oklahoma City, who is saving for his son.
“This gets us $1,529 closer to not having college debt,” said Ireland, father to his 17-year old son. “When you look at paying for college, the expenses are such that you have to take it one bite at a time. My mom struggled to give me the tools to have a better life than she did, and my goals are the same. If my son can graduate without carrying the burden of debt, I know that he can achieve things that I could only dream.”
For more information about the Oklahoma 529 College Savings Plan or to open an account, visit the website at www.ok4saving.org or call 1-877-654-7284.
# # #
For more information contact:
Tim Allen, Treasurer’s Office, (405) 522-4212
Kym Koch, Koch Communications, (405) 831-8668