Return to The Money Mentor Blog

Meet the 2016 National Education winners

Alliant computer contest winners
December 09, 2016

By Pam Leibfried

Alliant employees recently had the pleasure of judging the nearly 100 entries received for our annual National Education Program contest that awarded $5,250 in gift cards redeemable for computers and related items.

All Alliant members with Kids Savings Accounts were eligible to enter by sending us their answer to these two questions:

  • What do I want to be when I grow up?
  • How can a computer enrich my education?

The entries were creative and inspiring, spanning multiple types of media and a wide variety of life goals. Supporting the educational and financial success of our members is a key part of Alliant’s member-focused mission, and we’re proud to help these talented young members work to achieve their dreams.

Let’s get to know the Alliant member winners in each of three age groups (5-9, 10-13 and 14-17). 

Golden Apple Award winners: $1,000 gift card

Braelynn, ages 5-9 category

Alliant 2016 National Education Program winner Braelynn

Braelynn, age 8, from Wooster, Ohio, submitted a charming video about her goal of becoming a veterinarian. Braelynn mentioned two factors that inspired her to dream of rescuing animals: her aunt Deb, who is studying to become a veterinarian, and the children’s cartoon show Go, Diego, Go! 

Part of Braelynn’s $8 monthly allowance goes into her Alliant Kids Savings Account, earmarked for buying a computer of her own. “Since I am eight years old, and not a cartoon, I need a computer to learn what a veterinarian would do to help animals. When I get a computer of my own, I will use Netflix to watch documentaries about animals. I will look up animals on Google search. I will research about the animals’ bodies so that I can give the animals the right treatment. …The more animals I know about, the more I can help.” 

 Alliant National Education Program winner drawing 

Anna, ages 10-13 category

Alliant 2016 National Education Program winner Anna 10

Anna, age 10, of Pacifica, California, wants to be a firefighter. To learn more about how computers are used in her chosen profession, she visited a neighborhood firehouse. A budding illustrator, Anna communicated what she learned via a cartoon. 


Alliant National Education Program winner cartoon about firefighters

Logan, ages 14-17 category

Alliant 2016 National Education Program winner LoganLogan, age 14, is from Makawao, Hawaii. He is an aspiring pilot who submitted an impressive video along with his application. The judges lauded Logan’s use of humor and sound effects in his video. One judge’s comment summed up why Logan was selected as  one of this year’s contest winners: “Jump cuts on an iPad video? Give this kid a computer!” 




Silver Key Award winners: $500 gift card

Kate, ages 5-9 category

Alliant 2016 National Education Program winner Kate

Kate, age 8, of San Jose, California, is a third-grader who likes school and loves reading, music and gymnastics. Her favorite books are the Geronimo Stilton and Thea Stilton series. She wants to be a singer, gymnast or teacher when she grows up. Kaitlyn wants to use the prize money she won to purchase a tablet device so she can learn new music and new gymnastics moves and play number games that will help her develop her math skills.



Jonathan, ages 10-13 category

2016 Alliant National Education Program Winner Jonathan

Jonathan, age 12, hails from Henderson, Nevada, and wants to be an artist. Why? The prospect of being an artist excites Jonathan because it will allow him to be creative and use a variety of art forms. He also likes to travel to experience different cultures and wants to reflect them in his artwork. Some of the artists who most inspire him are Vincent Van Gogh, Edvard Munch and Claude Monet. 

Having a computer will enable Jonathan to further enrich his art education. Plus, he can learn to use photography applications! 



Michelle, ages 14-17 category

2016 Alliant National Education Program Winner Michelle

Michelle, a 17-year-old from Brooklyn, New York, wrote an eloquent narrative about how her grandfather’s Alzheimer’s disease has inspired her to want to become a neuroscientist. Michelle, who also works with elderly patients in a nursing home, has researched neurological diseases on computers at school. Having her own computer will make it easier for her to pursue her studies so she can one day help to “find a way to ease the burden that rests upon the shoulders and minds of the millions of individuals with Alzheimer’s … the people close to them, and – of course – my grandfather.” 



Brass Bell Award winners: $250 gift card

Anna, ages 5-9 category

2016 Alliant National Education Program Winner Anna 6Anna, age 6, from Oswego, Illinois, is another member who loves art. In fact, she wants to be an artist when she grows up. She plans to use her computer to learn more about art and how to become an artist. 



Alliant National Education Program winner drawing 2016


Anthony, ages 10-13 category

2016 Alliant National Education Program Winner Anthony

Anthony, age 13, from Park Ridge, Illinois, is a talented musician. He plays euphonium, trombone and tuba. He also participates in cross country and runs 5Ks, and while his running hobby may seem like a departure from his focus on music, Anthony points out that “you need strong lungs to play brass instruments!” 

Anthony’s goal is to be a professional musician, and he composes his own music. He uses a computer application to practice. “Smart Music has a large library to let me perform any type of music with a full accompaniment … but if you are screenless, you are out of luck!” 

He will use his new computer to learn about other styles of music by listening to and watching recordings and videos of live performances online. “A  computer would open a portal to an expansive universe of music.”



Marisa, ages 14-17 category

2016 Alliant National Education Program Winner Marisa

Marisa, age 17, is from Bartlett, Illinois, and wants to be a professional photographer. She loves the exhilaration she feels when she captures the perfect picture. 

Having her own computer will allow her to experiment with Photoshop and other photography applications to help expand her skillset. It also will enable her to continue to edit her photos as she studies photography in college beginning next year. 

Marisa’s favorite type of photography is nature photography, and her entry included some samples of her work. 

Alliant award winner Marisa's nature photography   Alliant award winner Marisa's nature photography

Pam Leibfried is a marketing content specialist whose love of words led to a writing and editing career. After a brief stint teaching English, she transitioned to corporate communications and spent 20 years at The Nielsen Company before joining Alliant’s content development team. Early in her work life, Pam’s friend Matt explained the benefits of a 401(k) and her dad encouraged her to start a Roth IRA. Their good counsel prompted her to prioritize retirement savings, which just might enable her to retire early so she can read more and live out the slogan on her fave T-shirt:  “I have a retirement plan: I plan on quilting.”   

Up your Financial IQ

Sign up for our monthly newsletter to help you stay at the top of your financial game.