24-Year-Old Wins Big for Idea To Connect Students With More Money for College

April 13, 2011

Act.MTV announces the winner of the College Affordability Challenge, which called on current and aspiring college students to imagine innovative
digital tools to reimagine and simplify the financial aid process. The
finalists were selected from hundreds of submissions from students in 48
states. The winner received $10,000 and a development budget of
$100,000, to become a part of the national Get Schooled campaign.

Congrats, Devin Valencia! She was just named the "College Affordability Challenge"
winner for creating "Connect Fund," a Facebook app that will help
students find more money for school. Devin will receive $10,000 and the
opportunity to fully develop her digital tool with a budget of $100,000.

 Act caught up with Devin today after she returned from the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) meeting in San Diego, where she was named the challenge winner by President Bill Clinton, himself (click here to see the video of President Cliton's presenting the award to Devin).

What was your experience like at CGI U?
My experience at CGI U was nothing short of amazing! Meeting the
president was such a surreal experience and a historical moment in my
life. I learned so much and felt inspired throughout the entire
conference. Being in a room full of innovators puts your creative
thinking in overdrive. The people I encountered are our generation's
future global impactors. I already want to go back next year to connect
with young leaders and make more positive changes in the world!

What was your favorite part of the weekend?
The entire weekend was my favorite part! Every session, every day and every person I met has made a positive impact in my life.

How do you plan to spend the 10K prize?
Putting 10k in any young adult's hands could be dangerous, but I will
choose to spend the money wisely. I will use it to pay off my student
loan and plan on putting the rest of it into savings.

What have you learned from this experience?
I have learned that young people do have a voice and that we are able to
make changes in the world. Making any positive changes, whether small
or big, can have such a huge impact and leads to more change. This
experience has been life changing and one I will remember forever!

What advice do you have for other young innovators trying to get their ideas off of the ground?
My best advice for other young innovators is to just believe in yourself
and to not let anyone tell you you can't. Being young, we feel as
though there are many barriers to get past in order to accomplish
something. So take time to understand these hurdles. By understanding
these barriers, you'll have a better shot at overcoming them and letting
yourself be seen and heard. Don't stop until you've reached your
maximum potential!

What's next for you? Any new endeavors on the horizon?
I feel as though so many new doors have opened and I have the
opportunity to continue contributing. CGI U has given me so many new
ideas that I want to pursue and share with the world. Hopefully this
will not be the last time you hear from me!

You can learn more about Devin and "Connect Fund" and watch a video President Clinton presenting her award on GetSchooled.MTV.com.

Photo: From left, Christen Pollack, The College Board, Marie Groark, Get
Schooled Foundation, Bill Clinton and Devin Valencia. (John Hanacek /
Clinton Global Initiative)



post was originally published on Act.MTV.com, MTV's action blog.
It’s reprinted here with permission.





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