Drake State student wins national Verizon Wireless contest

A J.F. Drake State Community and Technical College student has won a national contest sponsored by telecommunications giant Verizon Wireless that spotlighted worthwhile community service initiatives that could be assisted by technology.

Sophomore Antoinette Cooper was named 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).

Her community service initiative, called “Building Better Leaders,” aims to create a conference that would provide local high school students with the tools, skills and resources they need to become effective leaders. Cooper envisioned workshops in public speaking, professional demeanor and attire, and time management.

“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,” she said. “Now, I just have to find a balance between planning the conference, maintaining school, and motherhood.”

The wireless carrier staged the contest to bring awareness to community service platforms of HBCU queens and kings with the aid of wireless technology. As the winner, Cooper, the reigning Ms. Drake, will receive $10,000 towards her community service initiative, a $5,000 cash prize and a Verizon Wireless 4G LTE tech pack.

The contest required that Cooper create a short video illustrating the challenge behind her platform and how wireless technology could provide the means to overcome obstacles. Fellow students helped her produce it.

“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,” said Denise Gaymon, Drake State college counselor and a student advisor on the project. “We did not have that. Antoinette and her team had to be very resourceful, and pulled it together remarkably.”