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Winner! Navid Radfar Wins $100,000 Dr. Pepper Tuition Scholarship

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at TCNJ chapter.

In a free moment during the summer, Navid Radfar spontaneously decided to apply for a Dr. Pepper Tuition Give Away scholarship. A few months later, with a lucky chest pass, he found himself $100,000 richer in tuition. This TCNJ sophomore entered the contest with aspirations to pay for his college tuition here and later on, to pay for medical school with the hopes of becoming a neurosurgeon.

Navid’s inspiration to become a neurosurgeon developed from an unfortunate incident that occurred while he was in fifth grade. “My father suffered a heart attack and was in a coma. Fortunately, he was given a second chance by a smart surgeon,” he said. From then on, Navid decided to chase a worthy goal. “I have a dream to change the world, as I want to become a neurosurgeon and help find cures for diseases such as Alzheimer’s and cancer,” he said in his application video.

After submitting a one minute video online, he was later chosen out of 5,500 applicants as one of 20 finalists. He was flown out to Charlotte, North Carolina for the ACC football game for the final competition with four other finalists. This contest entailed throwing as many footballs as possible into a two foot wide hole in a large soda can constructed 5 yards away from the contestants in 30 seconds.

Navid received advice from his Microeconomics professor to go with a chest pass instead of a traditional football throw. “I played football for about a year in 6th grade and never really got around to learn how to throw a football. After receiving the call from Dr. Pepper to inform me I was a finalist in the Tuition Giveaway I realized the one sport I neglected my whole life could possibly pay my college tuition,” Navid said. However, the advice from his professor and the help of his friends prepared him for the final round.

In the preliminary round, the day before the ACC game, 2 out of 5 finalists were going to be chosen to participate in the final round where the winner would receive the $100,000 scholarship. In the first round, Navid tied for first place, but lost in the tie-breaker.  However, this secured him a spot in the final round. “I was already a winner in my mind,” Navid said before the final competition, “It was more of a mental competition than a physical one.”

Not letting his nerves get the best of him proved him to be a true winner. “I didn’t think I was going to win,” Navid said. “Honestly, he [the other finalist] was better than me.” But in the end, his calm nerves and “goofy-looking” chest pass won him the competition. “Not letting all of the pressure get to me was what really won it,” he explained.

“I didn’t even know I won,” Navid said was his first thought when he actually did win. He said he didn’t know what to do either. He wanted to be happy on TV though, and he clearly was, which he showed by jumping up and down along with an ear-to-ear grin.

“About a month ago, I didn’t think my dream would be a reality,” he said right after winning, “but because of Dr. Pepper and all the great friends I had that helped me practice for this, I think I’m one step closer to being a neurosurgeon and changing the world.”

Without the burden of paying off debt on his mind, Navid has a lot less to stress about and a lot more concentration and motivation to put into his work.

He hopes his story inspires others to pursue their own endeavors. Navid says, “If you have a dream, go pursue it. Don’t ever let anyone or anything dictate what you can or can’t do. If there is a will, there is a way. Thank you Dr. Pepper, friends, and family for all of the support. This was truly an unforgettable experience.”

Hilarey Wojtowicz is a senior Journalism/Professional Writing major at The College of New Jersey. Hilarey works for TCNJ's Residential Education and Housing Department as a Community Advisor, but is truly aspiring to be the next Carrie Bradshaw. Not only does Hilarey love writing for her campus's chapter of Her Campus, but she enjoys writing about sports for local newspapers, as well. A true Jersey girl at heart, Hilarey is definitely not from the Boston area, but is a huge fan of the New England Patriots. You can find her interning in New York City this Fall at Woman's Day Magazine.