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SIU student wins $125,000 in tuition in Dr. Pepper’s Tuition Giveaway
February 8, 2021
Each year, Dr. Pepper gives away a million dollars in tuition, this year the award was doubled to two million dollars, to financially support select college students during their academic journeys.
For the last twelve years, the company selects ten finalists out of the thousands of applicants to receive $75,000 dollars in tuition. The finalists are also given the chance to compete for an additional $50,000, for a grand total of $125,000 dollars in tuition.
Finalists are paired up and compete against one another by throwing the most footballs into an oversized can of Dr. Pepper within thirty seconds. These competitions are usually held during the halftime of the Power Five football conferences’ championship games.
Marianne Haines, a junior at SIU, was selected as a finalist during the 2020 Dr. Pepper tuition giveaway. Haines, who is from Farmington, Ill, is currently studying biomedical science while also minoring in both Spanish and American Sign Language (ASL).
She found out about the tuition giveaway on social media. “It popped up on my Instagram I think and just thought I’d give it a try”, Haines says. For her application, she produced a one-minute video and wrote a paragraph detailing what goals she hopes to achieve with the help of the tuition money.
Haines illustrates her goals of becoming a Physician Assistant to better help deaf and Spanish-speaking patients. In her video submission, she explains,” My goal is to become a trilingual PA, who can change and bring awareness to these communities that are struggling to receive adequate medical care.”
Haines filmed her video submission in front of different locations around campus while incorporating cans of Dr. Pepper in the background.“A few weeks after the submission date, they [Dr. Pepper] gave us a call and then they emailed us,” Haines describes.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the competition was altered. Haines and the other finalists were all flown to Frisco, Texas to a closed set at the Dude Perfect headquarters. The finalists spent a few days in Frisco, where they were paired up and filmed their pre-recorded segments
“We got to view the Dude Perfect headquarters. We got to take a tour around there. Then they took us around the Dallas Cowboys headquarters. So we got to see the practice fields and where they do everything. So that was pretty cool,” Haines explains about her favorite moments of the experience.
During the halftime of the ACC championship game between Notre Dame and Clemson, Haines took on Naomi Cho, a creative producing student from Chapman University.
Within the first eight seconds of the competition, Cho took the lead by making three footballs inside the can. But Haines soon came from behind and ended up tying Cho at five footballs each with two seconds left to spare.
This forced a fifteen second tie-breaker, where Haines would later be declared the winner after beating Cho with a total score of 5-4 in the tiebreaker.
“I definitely thought I was gonna lose for a hot second there. I wasn’t doing too good. It was just like getting into the groove felt nice. I definitely didn’t think that would happen. So I am glad,” Haines said. “Shout out to Dr. Pepper for paying for my tuition.”
Staff Photographer Jared Treece can be reached at [email protected].
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