HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - J.F. Drake State Community and Technical College Sophomore Antoinette Cooper is the National Grand Prize Winner of the Verizon Wireless Ultimate Reign Competition, an annual video contest held among students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).
Sponsored by the wireless carrier to bring awareness to community service platforms of HBCU queens and kings with the aid of wireless technology, Drake State was the only two-year college in the nation to enter this year’s event, taking the highest honor.
As the reigning Ms. Drake, Ms. Cooper moved the judges with her community service initiative of “Building Better Leaders.” Her cause aims to create a conference through which local high school students would be provided with the tools, skills and resources to become better prepared leaders for the future. Ms. Cooper envisioned workshops in public speaking, professional demeanor and attire, and time management.
As a result of her creative efforts and the resulting video submission, Ms. Cooper will receive $10,000 towards her community service initiative, a $5,000 cash prize, and a Verizon Wireless 4G LTE tech pack.
Ashley Brabham and Jason Draper, representatives from Verizon Wireless, presented the package to Ms. Cooper Thursday.
Ms. Cooper was both thrilled and eager to get her campaign underway.
“Now that I’ve won, I have to make this leadership conference a reality. In the midst of the overwhelming excitement, I have already reached out to have a logo designed, and my list of people to call for support is growing daily. Now, I just have to find a balance between planning the conference, maintaining school, and motherhood.”
The contest required that Ms. Cooper create a short video illustrating the challenge behind her platform and how wireless technology could provide the means to overcome the issue. The two-minute entry was produced with the assistance of fellow Royal Court members as “actors” in front of the camera, and technically-savvy welding students turned videographers behind the scenes.
To advance to the finals, Ms. Cooper needed support from students, faculty, staff, friends, family and the community at large in the form of votes via social media and online through the Verizon Wireless Ultimate Reign website during a six-week period. The top six vote recipients would advance to the final judging phase conducted by Verizon officials.
“My supporters were surprising and they stretched from the bottom of Alabama to North Carolina. Friends and teachers from elementary and middle school found ways to contact me via Facebook to say kudos and get details on voting. I never expected people from so long ago to provide such an outpouring of support,” said Ms. Cooper, who added that the best part was being able to share her vision with the community and feeling their humbling backing.
“It’s truly rewarding to know people you least expect are supportive from the shadows.”
Denise Gaymon, Drake State College Counselor and one of the student advisors on Ms. Cooper’s project notes the significance of the achievement.
“This was quite a feat. It was not easy to do considering that we were competing against other larger colleges and universities across the nation, some with full-fledged video production capabilities. We did not have that. Antoinette and her team had to be very resourceful, and pulled it together remarkably. We are very proud of her and the other students.”
Winning the competition helped Ms. Cooper come to several important realizations and findings.
“I know now that I am capable of achieving much more than I give myself credit for. As for my team, there was no surprise. I knew they would fight with me ‘til the end. I did discover some hidden talent in making the video, and I think it was vital in the success of the competition.”