We at Raybin & Weissman are so proud of our 2016 Texting and Driving Video Scholarship winners. These bright students created very effective Public Service Announcements (PSAs), which expressed the dangers of texting and driving.
We could not believe how powerful, creative and touching the videos that we received were.
Choosing winners was not an easy process. Qualifying videos were between 30 to 60 seconds in length, made by high school juniors/seniors or college students, and uploaded to YouTube.
We awarded our local, regional and national winners with $1,000 each. Additionally, we awarded two local students with honorable mention prizes of $100 each.
You can view the full list of our scholarship winners along with the complete list of the rules of the competition here.
Interview with National Scholarship Winner Ruslan Volyar
I had the pleasure of speaking with our national scholarship winner, Ruslan Volyar, last night. Ruslan is a very impressive young man who just graduated from Millburn High School in Millburn, New Jersey. You can view his award-winning video at the link below.
In Ruslan’s video, the camera follows one student after his high school class is dismissed. The student walks down his school’s hallway while texting a friend who is driving. The distracted student crashes into a classroom door, and car crash noises score his accident. The student rises to his feet and walks away. The closing message reads, “You Can’t Always Walk it Off.”
DW: Thank you so much for speaking with me, Ruslan.
RV: Thank you!
DW: Please tell me about yourself. I heard you just graduated. What school were you going to?
RV: I moved to America in 4th grade from Ukraine and have just graduated Millburn High School in Millburn, NJ.
DW: What an exciting time! Have you chosen a college and a major yet?
RV: Yes, I will be attending the School of Arts and Sciences at Rutgers University. I am going to major in either Biology or Computer Science with a Pre-Med track.
DW: That’s wonderful, but I’m a little surprised that you don’t want to go into filmmaking or advertising since you made such a wonderful video.
RV: Thanks! I like marketing and filmmaking, and the combination of both of them is what led me to creating this video PSA. I love making videos, and I even freelance for local businesses by creating ads and documentaries for them. You can find my Vimeo online (here).
DW: Fantastic! Your experience and vision really showed in your PSA. Do you have any big, upcoming video projects?
RV: The most recent project I’m working on is a documentary for a local fencing club.
Last summer, my frequent collaborator, Max Retik, and I worked on a music video for a band and the film featured at NFFFTY and won best Music Video and Best Overall at the NJ High School Film Fest. This summer, we are working on another music video for The Parkers, and we are really excited.
DW: I’ll say! That is a lot to be excited about. So Ruslan, how did you hear about the Raybin & Weissman Texting and Driving Awareness scholarship?
RV: I was looking online for potential scholarships and found the Raybin & Weissman Texting and Driving Video Scholarship. I knew from the start that I was definitely going to enter because of my love for filmmaking and storytelling.
DW: Have the dangers of texting and driving every affected you personally?
RV: Yes, my neighbor was struck by a car while crossing a street in Downtown Millburn, but thankfully, she survived and is now feeling better than ever, but this event really made me realize how instantly someone’s life can be taken away and for some stupid reason like distracted driving.
DW: I’m sorry your neighbor had to go through that, but I’m glad to know she’s okay now. Please tell me the story behind the video. We were all so impressed with the “You Can’t Always Walk it Off” concept, and the execution of that idea was just phenomenal.
RV: Thanks! The idea behind the video was to try to create a parallel between a day at school and a driving situation. As you saw, driving is similar to walking in the hallway of a crowded school.
Almost everyone is walking blindly with their eyes glued to their phones. But what happens when this behavior transfers to the road? The consequences are much greater, and sometimes even fatal. This is the message of the PSA.
DW: Were you in the video?
RV: The character in the video was one of my best friends, Max Retik who I mentioned earlier. He is going to be a sophomore at USC . We have collaborated on a lot of projects in the past, and I love working with him.
DW: It’s always good to keep talented company! What kind of camera did you use?
RV: The camera used was a Canon 5d Mark III.
DW: Very nice! Did you face any difficulties making the PSA?
RV: The most difficult part was thinking of a clear and powerful message. Many PSAs are well executed, but they lack a clear and distinct message. So, my video focused on delivering a clear and persuasive message.
DW: Mission accomplished, Ruslan. So, is the prize money going to make a big difference in your life?
RV: The prize money is definitely going to make a big difference. College is getting more expensive each year, and this amazing scholarship will definitely help me financially. I hope to graduate loan-free.
DW: Well, it sounds like you are a very driven and talented person, and I truly believe you can make that happen. Thank you so much for sharing your talent with us.
RV: Thank you for the opportunity.
Ruslan was up against a great deal of worthy competitors on the national level, but his video stood out due to its professional quality, clear concept and effective message.
We hope that many people see his video and think twice before unlocking their screens while behind the wheel. After all, “You Can’t Always Walk it Off.”
We are so proud of Ruslan, and wish him the best in all of his upcoming projects and at Rutgers University! Congratulations, Ruslan! Thank you again for your texting and driving scholarship submission.