Overall, the contest videos received over 28,000 votes.

Overall, the contest videos received over 28,000 votes.

In the conclusion of the U.S. Department of Education’s video contest, “I Am What I Learn,” federal officials have named three winners out of hundreds of entries. While the winning students’ videos are different in subject and style, they share a common goal: to show the world why education is important.

The contest, which launched Sept. 21, asked students to create videos up to two minutes long about the importance of education in achieving their personal goals. Students from across the country submitted more than 600 videos in all, featuring stories from diverse economic, social, and ethnic backgrounds. (See story: “Ed announces student video contest.”)

After the Education Department’s (ED’s) Office of Communications and Outreach reviewed each video, officials chose 10 finalists, and these were announced on Nov. 16. The department invited stakeholders to vote for their favorites on the contest’s YouTube channel. After more than 28,000 votes were cast between Nov. 16 and Dec. 4, the top three vote-getters emerged as the winners, and each will receive a $1,000 cash prize from ED.

One winner, Rene Harris, 17, is a 12th grader at Oxford Area High School in Oxford, Pa. In her entry, Harris shares her story about overcoming personal setbacks at home.

“A lot of young people have negative stuff going on in their lives. I figured by telling my story, I may inspire others to get serious about learning so they can get to where they want to be,” said Harris.

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Click above to watch Harris’ video on eSN.TV

Another winner, Alex Hughes, 16, is an 11th grader at Southeast Guilford High School in Greensboro, N.C. In his entry, Hughes discusses the importance of education in achieving his dream to become a movie director.

“Education is important to me because it will decide how I live my life. I know that if I work hard enough on my education, I will reach my ultimate goal,” he said.

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Click above to watch Hughes’ video on eSN.TV

The third winner, Jordan Lederman, 13, is an eighth grader at Pine Lake Middle School in Sammamish, Wash. In her entry, Lederman discusses the intersection of education and the thing she loves most—chickens. Hoping to one day have her own farm of chickens, Lederman plans to use her award in three ways: she will save some money for college, donate some to an international organization that purchases hens for poor families, and use the rest to take care of her own chickens.

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Click above to watch Lederman’s video on eSN.TV