What Students Taught Us
In six short months, over 760 college-bound seniors from across the country submitted personal stories, videos, and hand-made posters and brochures to encourage awareness around the importance of AED units and facts surrounding sudden cardiac arrest to the AED Superstore. They applied to AED Superstore’s college scholarship. The rules were simple: among the six shocking facts of death due to SCA we posed, what did they find to be most astonishing and how would they spread awareness around the importance of deploying AED units.
“I was floored when I learned of the volume of applicants to our scholarship,” states Micah Bongberg, CEO of AED Superstore, ”but what was even more impressive than the number of applicants we had were the submissions themselves.”
One of the most unique video submissions was from Autumn, a high school senior from Flower Mound, Texas, who will attend Duke University in the fall of 2016. Autumn expressed her shock at learning “16 people under the age of 18 die of sudden cardiac arrest each day.” Then, instead of describing how she would recommend we spread awareness, she showed us what she did to educate her classmates and her community. This ambitious young woman certainly took initiative and AED Superstore is proud to present her with the $1000 scholarship. Watch her award winning video at the top of this page.
Others, like Victoria of Virginia Beach, wrote essays and told us personal stories of their experiences and how it prompted them to action. In September 2015, she watched as one of her high school friends suffered sudden cardiac arrest during a half-marathon. She worked with her homeroom teacher and the school administration to get two AEDs installed at her high school and sees the value in educating as many people as possible about SCA and how to use AEDs. Her friend, Greg, did survive and continues to recover.
AED Superstore received personalized videos, recorded cardiac arrest role-playing scenarios, AED demonstrations, and ideas to spread awareness.
“We truly witnessed the innovations that group-thinking brings and the power of ideas,” says Bongberg. “At AED Superstore, some of our best internal ideas come out of group conversations and discussions and anyone can contribute in a helpful manner. Often times our best ideas come from the most unlikely places, so it’s really encouraging to see that arming intelligent students with just a few new facts can elicit some unique, worthwhile perspectives.”
The scholarship concept grew organically from AED Superstore’s staff. The idea started with simply asking “what can we do to give back to the community?” From there, ideas swirled and, in true AED Superstore fashion, there was great debate around how we might build awareness and generate massive interest. “The AED Superstore doesn’t like to do anything on a small scale – we strive to impact dramatic change by placing thousands and thousands of AED units into our communities and training tens of thousands of people in CPR each year. While each AED unit has life-saving power, the more commonplace AEDs become, along with awareness about them and how to use them, the more lives will be saved each year,” adds Bongberg.
Overwhelmingly, the fact which seemed to resonate most with our scholarship applicants was “SCA affects roughly 16 people under the age of 18 every day,” and rightly so. Most of the applicants fall into this age group and facing the prospect they, too, could fall victim to this silent, sudden killer has prompted many of them to promote awareness in their communities.
The results of tapping into a group of young, ambitious college-aged students speak for themselves. Imagine what else can be learned (and taught) by asking an open-ended question, offering a small incentive, and allowing freedom to think and operate.
This experience begs the question, does a scholarship opportunity merely help the student or does the world benefit from the knowledge shared and learned from the scholarship opportunity?
“When we began the scholarship process, we thought we were going to inspire someone young who needed an extra hand with college tuition,” says Bongberg. “We left feeling inspired by the leaders who applied and taught us all something new.”