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 36th Annual College Video Contest Winners 

NEW YORK, May 10th, 2024 - Today, The Christophers announce the winners of their 36th 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 exceptional individuals, who, either by how much they give or simply just by how they live, serve as shining beacons of light in a world that is too often overshadowed by clouds of darkness.”

            One such noteworthy individual, David Christopher Carson, is not only the older sibling of our first prize winner, Alexandra, but also the subject of her personal documentary entitled, “My Friend, David.”

           “David Christopher Carson took his first breath on July 6th, 1997,” Carson, a film and television major at Missouri Southern State University in Joplin, MO, began her video, as pictures of David growing up flash across the screen. “He has traveled to all 50 states, attended 5 schools, lived in 3 houses…and has one sibling, whom he tolerates well enough! He also has low-functioning autism.”

           The subject of autism is always a difficult topic to broach with others, especially if they have no direct experience with it themselves, either through a family member or close friend. In this well-crafted film tribute, Alexandra delves far beneath the surface of what it means to be autistic, by letting her audience get to know the person behind the condition, a person whom she just happens to have known and loved her whole life, her one and only sibling, her “friend, David.”

           “Most enchanting of all is David’s growth in speaking,” Carson noted, as her documentary goes on to show private glimpses of her brother experiencing the world around him onscreen. “His words hold so much weight. He makes for a great listener…And though he can’t give me advice on boys…he shows me what it means to be alive…Whatever he feels, he feels with his whole being. He exists only in the moment…loves with everything he has.”

           “When I mention David, that he has autism,” Alexandra recalled, “most people freeze up. They don’t know what to say, how they should feel…To some, autism is this great ‘other.’ It exists outside of their universe…When it confronts them, they shut down…maybe, it’s fear. Fear of saying the wrong thing…of offending…of looking ignorant.”

           “We can’t always be right,” Carson wisely concluded, “but we can always try. And when that fear doesn’t hold us back, doesn’t stop us from…trying, from asking questions and making mistakes, from improving and growing, then maybe the world can change. Maybe, understanding can deepen. I don’t…pretend to be any sort of expert on autism, nor is this some great moral narrative. It just is. David just is…David…isn’t the lesson, but maybe, you can be.”

           Second prize went to computer science major Kaitlyn Harrington from Villanova University, collaborating with the philanthropic organization “Play it Forward,” which has made quite a positive impact on her local suburb of Villanova, PA. In Harrington’s video, titled “Enabling Communities to 'Play It Forward' for Kids in Need,” the impressive accomplishments and statistics behind this charity are quickly presented in printed black letters across the white background of the screen.

           Due to the rising cost of athletic gear, children, chiefly between the ages 6 to 12, no longer participate as much in school sports. Thus, the initiative of Play it Forward was born. It first started as an “idea to collect outgrown sports equipment to give more kids the opportunity to play.” By providing youngsters with the supplies needed to take part in athletic activities, thereby enabling them to join their school’s respective teams, this organization succeeded in boosting the “physical fitness, mental health, emotional well-being, and social self-confidence” of these students as well.

           “Studying computer science at Villanova University is elevating my technology skills,” Kaitlyn noted in her film as photographs of sports equipment being collected and put to good use are interspersed seamlessly with the numbers and percentages onscreen, “so I can develop solutions to growing problems like…Play it Forward.”

           “Play It Forward just equipped our 600th youth athlete a few weeks ago,” Harrington informed The Christophers in a recent email, “and we're approaching our 7,000th donated equipment item…I had a fantastic time creating my video for your scholarship, particularly reflecting on the impact Play It Forward has had on so many young athletes and their families.”

           When it comes to making a difference, third prize winner Devin Huynh starts with Eleven Percent, referring to both his business and YouTube channel of the same name, which currently boasts over 15,000 subscribers. In Huynh’s video entitled, “Making a Difference from a Hobby,” the viewing audience is swiftly acquainted with this young filmmaker’s vocational journey, and how his passion for creating his own media content at a young age developed into a full-fledged profession.

           “I’m a video editor at California State University-Northridge,” Huynh introduced himself, as he faced the camera in front of his computer at the beginning of his film, “and I’m majoring in entertainment media management. But I’m not just all work. I actually have quite a few passions and hobbies of my own.”

           “Growing up, I’ve always loved making videos,” Devin continued as footage of his early Youtube films as a youngster play across the screen.  “As a kid, I would make stop-motion videos and tutorials on my Legos, and post them on YouTube…Today, my favorite hobby is still running my YouTube channel, where we post tutorials on how to do visual effects and video editing.”

“But it’s not just about making content,” Huynh maintained. “It’s about creating a community and sharing knowledge…I realized my hobby could actually be a platform for outreach and education, making a difference in the world.”

           “Just recently, we sponsored a new brand of our channel Eleven Percent called Friends and Family,” Devin continued, as corresponding images play onscreen, “dedicated to helping those in need…We’ve managed to donate Thanksgiving meals to families in need…and…school uniforms to kids in Africa.”

           “My goal is to continue building up my brand, Eleven Percent, into an educational resource platform,” Huynh summarized in conclusion. “…Education to me is a pathway to growth. It’s an opportunity to break barriers, and show that success is possible for everyone… While my passions and academic pursuits are still on separate tracks, I still find ways to intertwine them…to create a brand that unifies and uplifts communities, and the craziest thing is, it all started with just a hobby.”

           Utilizing our hobbies and God-given talents to make a positive impact, starting right in our own backyards, is exactly what our founder, Father Keller’s, message has been about from the very beginning. This year and every year, we at The Christophers are especially proud to recognize so many remarkable and inspiring individuals, who steadfastly continue to light their own candles, rather than cursing the darkness.

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First Place: Alexandra Carson

Missouri Southern State University in Joplin, MO
Major: Film and Television
Title Of Entry: “My Friend, David”

Second Place: Kaitlyn Harrington
Villanova University in Villanova, PA
Major: Computer Science
Title of Entry: “Enabling Communities to Play It Forward for Kids in Need”

Third Place: Devin Huynh
California State University in Northridge,CA
Major: Entertainment Media Management
Title of Entry: “Making a Difference from a Hobby”

Honorable mentions

1. Andrew Bielek
Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, CA
Major: Business Administration
Title of Entry: “The Butterfly Effect”
Link to Video:

2. Alisha Brock
University of Southern Maine in Portland, ME
Major: Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (MSEd)

Title of Entry: “My Grandfather’s Legacy”
Link to Video:

3. Ava Wilson
University of Texas in Austin, TX
Major: RTF Film
Title of Entry: “January Winter”
Link to Video:

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