Volume 3 Number 27
July 3, 2006

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The following 15 students in five regions were the top picks in an essay contest aimed at encouraging financial education among middle and high school students.   

The contest, “Cash in on Your Money Smarts,” asked students, ages 14 to 18, to submit at least a 750-word essay answering the question: "If you had $100,000 to invest, what would you invest in and why?"

The contest offered students more than $7,500 in prizes statewide.  First, second and third place prizes have been awarded to teens in given geographic regions, for a total of 15 winners statewide.  Nearly 900 students participated this year. 

The essay contest was a great way to encourage Florida’s young people to show off their financial knowledge and writing skills, and reward them for it. Learning these valuable skills now will pave the way for a lifetime of financial success.

The fifteen winners named represent the five regions that competed in the contest.

In Region 1 the winners are:

First Place: Douglas Chico, 15,  Florida High University School, Tallahassee
Second Place: Justine Gunderson, 16, Lincoln High School, Tallahassee
Third Place:
Candice Baugh
, 15,  Crestview High School, Crestview

In Region 2 the winners are:

First Place: Rachel Christian, 18, Home-schooled, Fernandina Beach
Second Place:
Alex Whipple, 17, Middleburg High School, Orange Park
Third Place: 
Bryan Cowan
, 17, Bartram Trail High School, Jacksonville

In Region 3 the winners are:

First Place: Han Zhu, 16, St. Petersburg Senior High School, Largo
Second Place:
 Francesca Nutt, 17, J.W. Mitchell High School, Holiday
Third Place: 
Jared Moody
, 17,  Palm Harbor University, Palm Harbor

 In Region 4 the winners are:

First Place: Anthony Marchante, 17, Boone High School, Orlando
Second Place: 
Maggie David, 16, Vanguard High School, Ocala
Third Place: 
Junior Nashan Kemraj
, 17, Boone High School, Orlando

In Region 5 the winners are:

First Place: Brian Bonomi, 16, Home-schooled, Cooper City
Second Place: Travis Engebretsen, 17, Hobe Sound Christian Academy, Stuart
Third Place: Amanda Olmstead, 18, Summit Christian School, Lake Worth

Click on the names to read the essays.

First, second and third place winners received $750, $500 and $250 respectively.

The essay contest is part of our statewide public education initiative, Your Money, Your Life, which is designed to help Floridians stretch limited budgets, avoid debt and build assets, including savings and home ownership.  The program was started in 2004 in response to a recent survey reporting that many Floridians put themselves at financial risk by waiting too late to save and by running up debt.  The program includes a comprehensive educational website available at www.yourmoneyyourlife.org.

Financial support for the “Cash in on Your Money Smarts” essay contest is provided by a grant from the Investor Protection Trust (IPT).  The IPT is a nonprofit organization devoted to investor education. Since 1993, the IPT has worked with the States to provide the independent, objective investor education needed by all Americans to make informed investment decisions. Their website is www.investorprotection.org.