ELFI Video Contest Winner NamedOctober 25, 2018
Source: Richmond Times Dispatch
Simon Rivera was one of 44 million people who owed money on student loans until a video he made about raising a family while paying down debt won the top prize in a contest designed to wipe the slate clean.
The $50,000 prize will allow Rivera, 35, of Moseley, to satisfy student loans he incurred on his way to becoming a professional physician assistant.
“I will be able to pay off my debt and the remaining debt my wife has,” Rivera said in an interview Wednesday. “We’ll be able to save a little bit of the prize earnings as well. It’s given us a lot of flexibility.”
His 91-second video submission to the Empowering A Brighter Future video contest features Rivera and his wife talking about how their monthly debt payments were making it difficult to invest in their family’s future.
Education Loan Finance, a division of Tennessee-based SouthEast Bank, announced Rivera as the winner last month.
“His video was a great representation of how refinancing student loan debt can help individuals in moving forward with their dreams for themselves and their family,” said Barbara Thomas, SouthEast Bank executive vice president, in a news release.
At a combined total of about $1.44 trillion, outstanding student loans are the second-largest source of household debt in the U.S., according to a recent study by the Brookings Institution.
Originally from Washington state, Rivera is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force Reserve who came to Virginia by way of New York several years ago. He has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Touro College. He adopted filmmaking as a hobby several years ago after composing clips for his nephews.
A father of two young boys, a 4-year-old and a 20-month-old, Rivera said his wife aspires to become a teacher, a dream deferred after the birth of their first son. She plans to pursue an education degree.
This is the second year in a row Rivera has won a cash prize through a video contest. Last year, he won $20,000 for his submission to a nondenominational faith-based organization that hosts an annual video contest about the value of faith.