Raising Awareness About Sprinklers
The American Fire Sprinkler Association (AFSA) is proud to offer financial assistance and public awareness of sprinklers through its online scholarship program, AFSAscholarship.org. A total of $25,000 is awarded through this public awareness campaign to 10 lucky graduating high school seniors and five college students as they pursue their higher education goals. Since its creation in 1996, the AFSA Scholarship Contest has sought to promote the scholarship outside of the fire sprinkler industry in the hope of reaching students who may otherwise never have recognized the importance of automatic fire protection. Now entering its 21st year, the AFSA scholarship continues to grow, attracting over 350,000 unique visitors to its website.
“AFSA and its Public Education & Awareness Committee is pleased to offer these scholarships,” comments AFSA At-Large Region Director Jack Medovich, chairman of the committee. “We created this program to reach thousands with the message that fire sprinklers save lives and property and we are achieving that goal while helping students pursue their dreams.”
Scholarships for Seniors For the high school senior contest, applicants must be a current high school senior planning to attend an accredited U.S. college, university or trade school in the coming fall. Applicants are required to read a passage about fire sprinklers – which describes their history, how they operate to save lives and property, and the types of careers that are available in the industry – and take a 10-question reading comprehension test. For each question answered correctly, the student receives one entry into a drawing for one of ten $2,000 scholarships. A total of 10 entries per applicant into the drawing are possible.
The winners were randomly selected from 43,149 students who entered to receive a one-time $2,000 AFSA scholarship payable to their respective college, university or trade school. The 10 national winners for 2016 are: Ayo Dada, Houston, Texas; Travis Gylling, Cle Elum, Washington; Aribelys Hernandez, Brooklyn, New York; Brianne Hood, Omaha, Nebraska; Ihotu Ijaola, High Point, North Carolina; Joon-Bum Kim, Vancouver, Washington; Abigail Krafsig, Manassas Park, Virginia; Sydney Mercier, Wethersfield, Connecticut; Rachel Wei, West Hills, California; and Kendra Williams, East Lansdowne, Pennsylvania.
Winner Aribelys Hernandez is majoring in law at New York City College of Technology (CUNY) in Brooklyn, New York.
“I did not know much about fire sprinklers before I entered this contest,” comments Hernandez. “Not many individuals know that they can save thousands of lives and billions of dollars that are lost to fire each year by installing sprinklers in homes.”
Scholarship recipient Abigail Krafsig heard about AFSA’s contest from an interesting source: a previous AFSA scholarship contest winner who was her Government teacher.
“My Government teacher had entered when she was in high school and she was telling us about random scholarships that people don’t really know about and she told us about this one, so when I got home that day I did it. When I got the email about winning the scholarship, I had actually forgotten about it so it was an awesome surprise,” Krafsig recalls.
Krafsig’s government teacher was Kate Darlington and she was glad to hear that Krafsig had won.
“Like so many high school seniors, I applied for every scholarship available, but this one has always stuck with me,” remembers Darlington. “While I unfortunately did not win, I remember my twin sister and I applying for it, and because of its simplicity I encouraged all of my seniors to apply. I am so glad that Abby won, she was my hardest worker and a strong leader in our class.”
Krafsig is now majoring in bioengineering at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. Before entering the contest, she knew a little about the history and use of fire sprinklers. Now she knows they are “more helpful than I thought and are actually life-saving things.”
She also reports: “$2,000 is exactly what I needed to finish paying for this semester. My family really needs this and we are only able to take my payments semester by semester and this scholarship was a perfect fit. I am so grateful to your foundation.”
Winner Travis Gylling is attending the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks. He is majoring in commercial aviation with the goal of becoming an airline pilot. He heard about AFSA’s contest from his high school guidance counselor, and was happy to learn it was open to anyone pursuing a secondary education.
“My prior knowledge [about fire sprinklers] was minimal. I was aware that many buildings are fitted with sprinkler systems, but I did not know to what extent. I knew some contained water and others were ‘dry’ until they were activated by a fire alarm,” says Gylling. “This scholarship has definitely shed light on this technology. Fire sprinkler systems are something we shouldn’t take for granted.”
He continues: “Fire sprinklers are a crucial part of safety in our world. Safety isn’t just a slogan. I find myself looking for sprinklers in buildings whereas I would never have given them a second thought. I also hope that young people realize all of the different career paths that focus on or involve sprinklers. There are a lot of opportunities awaiting recent high school graduates.”
While AFSA’s scholarship provides financial support to Gylling, he adds that it’s actually more than just that.
“Since receiving your scholarship I have conversed with a handful of people about fire sprinklers’ importance. I have insight into fire protection because I applied for the AFSA scholarship,” he says. “Perhaps I will have input into plans for a new building at an airport someday – making certain sprinkler systems are integrated and carefully selected.”
Sydney Mercier is attending the University of Hartford in West Hartford, Connecticut, majoring in elementary education. She heard about the contest through her mom’s Facebook page.
“The only thing I knew about fire sprinklers before I entered this contest was that fire sprinklers go off when there is a fire,” Mercier comments. “Now that I know more about fire sprinklers I believe they are very important because they reduce the risk of death. I am so thankful for this scholarship from AFSA.”
Winner Brianne Hood was searching online for scholarships and found AFSA’s high school contest.
“I knew that fire sprinklers were very important in the process of alerting others of a fire in a building. I also knew that fire sprinklers help aide firefighters because the sprinklers can alleviate the strength and intensity of the fire,” says Hood. “Fire sprinklers are very important to have because it provides great proactive fire protection. I strongly believe that fire sprinklers are one way to save lives because they rapidly alert people about a fire in a building, which allows them to escape before it is too late.”
She continues: “This scholarship will help me achieve my education and career goals by assisting in paying for my first year textbooks and tuition.”
Second Chance Scholarships Applicants for the second chance contest must reside in the United States, hold a High School Diploma, GED or equivalent, and be enrolled at or accepted to a college/university or certified trade school. The winners of this scholarship were randomly selected from 38,518 students who entered to receive a one-time AFSA scholarship payable to their respective college, university or trade school. Second chance students follow the same rules and procedure as the high school senior students for entering. For each question answered correctly, the student receives one entry into a drawing for one of the scholarships. A total of 10 entries per applicant into the drawing are possible.
The five “second chance” winners for the 2016 contest are: Tonae Collins, Cincinnati, Ohio; Diamoneek Green, Cairo, Illinois; Ivy Johnson, Liberty, South Carolina; Cecelia Lakpor, Trenton, New Jersey; and Alyssa Smith, Grants Pass, Oregon.
Alyssa Smith is attending Brigham Young University in Idaho and majoring in political science. Her plans include serving in a public office and making a difference in her community. Smith says she knew sprinkler systems existed but didn’t know how they functioned or their importance. After reading the required essay and entering AFSA’s online contest, Smith’s awareness increased.
“[Sprinklers] are crucial to people’s safety,” she comments. “People would be at so much higher risk of death by fire in their homes or anywhere else they go without fire sprinklers.”
Smith is grateful for the scholarship AFSA provides and says, “My family has always struggled financially and this scholarship will assure that I can continue my education on to next semester because with it I will be able to afford college,” she says.
Cecelia Lakpor is attending Mercer County Community College and plans to attain a master’s degree. She found the scholarship contest through a Google search. Lakpor didn’t know much about fire sprinklers until she entered the contest.
“[AFSA] is a very generous organization that helps students achieve their goals,” Lakpor comments. “This scholarship will greatly help me by taking me a step closer to achieving my career dream.”
Both contests are being offered in 2016-2017. The high school senior contest is currently open until April 7, 2017 and the second chance contest will run again in the summer of 2017. AFSA scholarships are open to U.S. citizens or legal residents and are not based on financial need. For details or to apply for either scholarship, visit afsascholarship.org.