By LYNETTE HAALAND, Four Points News
Alina Scarlett, a local University of Texas student, won $100,000 for college tuition from Dr Pepper on Saturday by throwing the most number of footballs into an oversized Dr Pepper can and winning a halftime contest at the SEC Championship game of the University of Alabama vs the University of Georgia in Atlanta.
Scarlett — a communication sciences and disorders major who will graduate in May — was watching the Red River Showdown with her family in Steiner Ranch when former Longhorn and pro football player Vince Young was promoting the contest. He and another football personality were tossing footballs into the target.
Scarlett, who is also an intern in the youth department at Austin Baptist Church, thought the game looked like something she could do.
She went to the website and applied. First she wrote her goal of how she would change the world. Then she elaborated on her goal in less than 350 words. Lastly she needed to create a video explaining how the tuition money will help her make an impact in the world.
Scarlett had been thinking about how to do the video for about a week. She plays the ukulele and had a hymn she was thinking of. Then one night, according to her sister, she bolted out of bed with many of the lyrics that became her song.
Here are the lyrics to her song:
My name’s Alina and I first want to thank Dr Pepper for their generosity.
With this scholarship I can go to grad school, get the training to complete my degree.
After that I’ll become a speech pathologist, that’s what I really want to be.
Helping lots of people who’ve had strokes or brain damage get the care and therapy they need.
Speech therapy’s an intervention to bring back communication and that’s what I want to do.
Give people back their voice and impact their lives so that they can impact others too.
This scholarship would be a help but no matter what I’m gonna work hard to achieve my goal. To be a great SLP who works in great company, to spread love and joy and help people.
To be a great SLP who works in great company, who can also throw a mean spiral.
While videoing Scarlett playing the ukulele and singing, her sister Ava also threw her a Dr Pepper to cap off the scene. It took several tries for Ava to hold the camera steady while tossing in the soda.
Scarlett’s youngest sister Edie held the cue cards while she was singing. She submitted the video by the deadline of Oct. 17.
Then about 10 days ago, Scarlett was about to take an anatomy of speech and hearing mechanisms exam at UT when she got the call from Dr Pepper officials saying she was one of 20 selected from 10,270 who entered the contest.
To date, the Dr Pepper Tuition Giveaway has provided college students with more than $10 million in tuition. The contest is in its 10th year.
This year the contest was part of the halftime entertainment at the five championship college football games over the weekend. Out of the 20 finalists, 10 would get consolation prizes, the five runner-ups would each get $25,000 and the five winners would receive $100,000 each for college tuition.
To prepare, her parents Sara and Jared Reddoch helped her measure off the distance she would have to throw the footballs. They also encouraged her all along the way.
Scarlett’s volleyball skills also came in handy. Her setter skills helped her in this contest. She played volleyball at Poteet HS in Mesquite, Tex. where she grew up before moving to Austin and finishing high school at Vandegrift.
“I have played volleyball for about 10 years… I still actually play for fun,” she said. “When I played for school though, I was a setter, and the motion for setting a volleyball is quite similar to that of a chest pass. When I began practicing for the competition I quickly found that the chest pass seemed so familiar and natural I knew that was the way to go!”
On Thursday, Scarlett and her mom flew to Atlanta and were well taken care of by Dr Pepper with transportation, hotel, fine dining, and lots of Dr Pepper memorabilia including t-shirts, hats and a cooler.
Scarlett and three other contestants were part of the preliminary round on Friday. She was one of the top two tossers, which meant she would at least get $25,000. The two contestants who received the consolation prizes were surprised when Dr Pepper presented them each $10,000 instead of the $2,500 they were expecting.
She was so happy for them she cried joyful tears when they got their checks. Scarlett said all four contestants bonded during their time together from Thursday to Sunday.
Then on Saturday, Scarlett and Natania Quiros, the two remaining contestants, were brought to the field during halftime of the Alabama vs Georgia game. The contest started after a small introduction. Scarlett made the first eight and then missed the next four. The folks on the side were telling her to aim higher. So she said she calmed down and slowed down and aimed higher. Within the 30 seconds, she got 12 balls in the hole compared to Quiros’ nine.
Scarlett held her hands to her face and couldn’t believe what just happened. Shortly thereafter she was presented with the $100,000 check. She was beaming when she thanked the Lord, her family and gave a shout out to her sisters. She also thanked Dr Pepper for being such a great company to do this for so many. She said she would never drink another soda.
Scarlett plans to study speech pathology in graduate school. Ironically she was scheduled to take her Graduate Record Examinations on Friday, Nov. 30 but had to reschedule her GRE for Monday, Dec. 3. She says now she is not limited to Texas and is looking at colleges in Tennessee and the Carolinas.
“I just feel so blessed and thankful to be a part of this experience,” Scarlett said. “The Lord is so sovereign and blesses me beyond what I deserve and I am so thankful. Whatever happens I am striving to follow God’s will for my life and wherever that takes me!”