THE CHRISTOPHERS ANNOUNCE WINNERS OF
35th ANNUAL VIDEO CONTEST FOR COLLEGE STUDENTS
NEW YORK, April 27, 2023 - Today, The Christophers announces the winners of their 35th Annual Video Contest for College Students, in which entrants were asked to create a film or video that communicates the belief that one person can make a difference. This year’s contest drew close to 100 entries from colleges all across the United States. As Tony Rossi, The Christophers’ Director of Communications, and Sarah E. Holinski, The Christophers’ Youth Coordinator, observed, “Near and far, the video contest winners this past year demonstrate the continued importance of making a difference in action by highlighting some truly extraordinary people who tirelessly utilize their time and God-given talents to shine their lights into an increasingly darkened world which, in the wake of the isolation brought about as a result of the pandemic, remains more vital now than ever.”
One such extraordinary person featured is the aptly named Faith Whittingham, a teacher in every sense of the word, who also happens to be the mother of our first prize winner. Justin Whittingham, a film and television production major at Loyola Marymount College, was fortunate enough to have Faith as one of his first and greatest teachers. Now, in this loving video tribute to his mother entitled “Faith—Physics in Elementary School Education,” Justin shows how Faith is imparting her scientific knowledge to countless other students in the Seminole County Public School District, located in Sanford, Florida, as well. Their classrooms of choice? No less than 3 “physics buses”—talk about learning on the go!
“In the whole country, this is the only district that has three physics buses that go to elementary schools,” Faith stated in her son’s documentary. “…They told me they were giving me retired school buses, and they wanted me to convert them into physics buses, and that’s really all I got. We gutted the buses, made it into a lab, customized furniture, customized [the] floor…we actually created placemats, so that when they come to the table, the lab is already set out for them…so it does feel like they’re in school, but in a really cool classroom.”
“I started out by teaching my two kids, I homeschooled them,” Faith recalled in front of the camera as images and video footage of her hard work and the colorfully decorated buses play out across the screen. “Then I got an opportunity to teach in the classroom, and I impacted maybe 150 kids a year for a period of 5 years. This is thousands and thousands of kids…And the joy on their faces when they are playing [with] science, I had no idea the impact that would have on me!”
“I’ve always thought of education as a kid comes to you with a toolbelt with no tools in it, and my job is to put the tools in the toolbelt,” Whittingham noted thoughtfully in conclusion, “And it’s so cool when you see a student leave high school, or a student leave elementary school, and you see the tools that you helped to put in that toolbelt.”
Second place winner and Oxford University student Heather Jost would wholeheartedly concur with the significance of equipping students of all ages with the tools they need to make a difference, starting with teaching them a new language, as she showcases in her prize-winning video entitled “Connection to Make a Multiplying Difference.”
“I’ve spent the majority of the past 6 years teaching students English in the Sahrawi refugee camps in the southwestern corner of Algeria,” Jost explained, as she begins her self-filmed testimonial against a peaceful nature backdrop. “…I had always desired a career that challenged me culturally, and allowed me to step into the lives of people who saw the world differently than me. I wanted to serve those who God asked me to serve, and also satisfy my interests in anthropology, culture and language.”
“In high school,” Heather reminisced as the video continues with her voiceover, depicting an endlessly winding road, along with pictures and live-action footage of her philanthropic experiences, “through volunteering with my family at church and in college, through involvement with mentoring, tutoring and homeless shelters, my interest in service was sparked…teaching English in the Sahrawi refugee camps, I’ve been invited into families, cultural celebrations…I studied Arabic, and…[got] to hear the stories of multiple people throughout the community…I reveled in the power of connection, even across cultural and language barriers. But I wanted more.”
“I want…to dig deeper into the gifts God has given me,” Jost declared, “to see the most fruit blossom in the lives of those I work with, and to see the way God has made them to bear fruit as well. It seems like the more connection I have, the more I can see its power, and want to fully unleash it for the thriving of that community…I know that one person can make a difference, and I hope my impact will be in taking the experiences and education I’ve been so blessed with, and using it to catalyze many other change makers in the Sahrawi community and beyond.”
In her third prize-winning video titled “Nourish America: End Hunger For All,” fellow change maker Shreya Shivakumar conveys just how hard she has worked the past few years to cultivate her own nonprofit for the benefit of not only her own community, but other neighboring communities as well. A political science major at Barnard College, in addition to being the founder and president of Nourish America, Shivakumar is determined to raise awareness for families in need of both physical and educational sustenance all throughout the country.
“For the past three years, I have been involved in fighting food insecurity through Nourish America,” Shreya stated in her video as pictures and statistics from her nonprofit sweep across the screen, backing up her words, “…The greatest aspect of my service work is interacting directly with families …Last March, I learned that 120 refugee families were struggling with food insecurity, due to the coronavirus lockdown. I led my team to host a virtual benefit concert…[to support] the families with over 800 pounds of groceries in the following four months..”
“Additionally, I’m a Gold Award Girl Scout,” Shivakumar went on to say, “and my work with Nourish America is actually what inspired me to start my Gold Award initiative. In March 2020, I founded Allergies for Kids, an initiative to educate children about food allergy safety. I held food allergy education webinars for 430 children in 16 U.S. states... In the future, I will hold more allergy friendly food drives to support food banks in the northeast, and assist families impacted by the pandemic…My passion for achieving equality and interacting with people is what drives me to continue the fight to ‘end hunger for all.’ ”
From both educational and spiritual nourishment, to saving wildlife as well as creating new families, the Christophers are especially proud to honor so many remarkable and inspiring individuals who continue to light their own candles, as Father Keller always maintained, rather than cursing the darkness.
1st Prize Winner:
Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, CA
Major: Film and Television Production
Title of Entry: "Faith-Physics in Elementary School Education"
Link to Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CGGZJDESjmc
2nd Prize Winner:
University of Oxford, Saïd Business School in Oxford, England
Major: Master of Business Administration
Title of Entry: "Connection to Make a Multiplying Difference"
Link to Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ahtDVY93KyE
3rd Prize Winner:
Barnard College of Columbia University in New York, NY
Major: Political Science
Title of Entry: "Nourish America: End Hunger for All"
Link to Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KNrYpk96eAw
1) Hoi Ying (Clara) Chan
San José State University in San José, CA
Major: Music Education
Title of Entry: "One Person Can Make a Snowballing Difference"
Link to Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ptdaAV_ZhCo
2) Samuel Schneiderman
Brunswick Community College in Bolivia, NC
Major: Business Administration
Title of Entry: "The Urban Rescue Ranch"
Link to Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pqr5wwrRlnM
3) Mir Raciv Tayamen
Angelina College In Lufkin, TX
Major: Business Administration and Management
Title of Entry: "More than Just a Host Father"
Link to Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fc1rP_4f3Uo