Valencia Announces Winners of Student Video Contest and Free Tuition

Five lucky students have won free tuition – after being named the winners of Valencia College’s Student Video Contest.

The contest winners are: Douglas Apolinario, Gilberto Moleiro, Annistacia Morgan, LaWren Sanderson and Cinthia Romero Santos.

Designed to inspire others to persevere and pursue their college dreams, the Valencia Student Video Contest has been wildly popular, with 103 students submitting videos in the contest and 28,000 votes received on Facebook.

The contest was the idea of Valencia’s president, Dr. Sandy Shugart, who envisioned an “American Idol” style contest, in which Valencia students could share their stories and the challenges they’ve faced to go to college. His goal was to spotlight real students and let them tell their own stories about their dreams and their challenges.

Like many Valencia students, the winners have taken an unconventional path to college or have beaten the odds to attend college.  One of the winners, Cinthia Romero Santos, moved from Brazil to Orlando as a teenager after the death of her father. Although her family struggled as immigrants, Cinthia was determined to get a college education. She is now studying at Valencia to become a pediatric nurse.

Gilberto Moleiro is an international student who for 10 years pursued his dream of becoming a rock star. When he realized that wouldn’t happen, he didn’t give up; instead he decided to pursue a career in sound and music technology.

Doug Apolinario is also interested in a musical career, but has faced different challenges. As a teenager, he dropped out of high school to help support his family. Now he is working full-time and attending Valencia part-time. He’s the first member of his family to attend college.

Ten eligible finalists were chosen, based on the votes submitted on Facebook. From the 10 finalists, the winning videos were chosen by a panel of judges. The judges were: Lori Kifer, a member of Valencia’s board of trustees; Eric Rench, a West Campus student and member of the college’s student government association; Joyce Romano, vice president of student affairs; and Lucy Boudet, vice president of marketing and strategic communication.

“I loved all of the entries,” Boudet said. “There were videos that were funny and made me laugh; videos that were very courageous, with a student looking straight at the camera, explaining how he had made big mistakes and wanted to turn his life around…They all inspired me.

“Yet in the end, we picked the five videos out of the ten finalists that we felt best conveyed their own stories,” Boudet said.

The five students will receive up to 60 hours’ worth of tuition waivers at Valencia – so that they can complete their associate degrees.

To view the winning videos, click on these links:

Douglas Apolinario:

Gilberto Moleiro:

Annistacia Morgan:

LaWren Sanderson:

Cinthia Romero Santos: