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Volume 26, Number 5 — May 2019

A Busy Life Pays Off

Tiffany Mink won a $10,000 Upromise scholarship based on a 30-second video she created. (Andre Teague|Bristol Herald Courier)
Tiffany Mink won a $10,000 Upromise scholarship based on a 30-second video she created. (Andre Teague|Bristol Herald Courier)

Multi-Tasking Nets a $10,000 Scholarship


BRISTOL, Va. – Busy, busy, busy describes the life of Tiffany Mink, a Bristol native who is a recent college graduate, planning her wedding, and the winner of a $10,000 Upromise scholarship based on a 30-second video she created about how she is paying for her education.

Titled: "Multi-Tasking for College," the video features images of Mink talking about living out of a suitcase, wearing clothes from 1993, painting custom shoes, driving a car with 164,000 miles on it, and putting "a pile of stuff" on eBay.

"I was already lucky. I work for Vans Shoes and Warptour, traveling the country taking pictures and posting newscasts of concert tours, and I am using my degree to do it," Mink said. "To have the Upromise scholarship is even bigger. It is literally life changing. It wipes my slate clean of college debt. It is huge!"

Upromise is a college savings and scholarship program administered by the Sallie Mae Corp., one of the largest U.S. providers of college loans. The program was designed to help students set up an account where they can accumulate and save money specifically to pay for their education or pay off student loans.

Upromise also hosts the Tuition Tales video contest, now in its third year. The program annually chooses 10 videos out of thousands of entries and posts them on its website. Viewers then can go online and cast a vote for their favorites. The top 10 vote-getters win $500 Visa gift cards. The top two win $10,000 Sallie Mae scholarships that go into their Upromise accounts.

"I have my school loans through Sallie Mae so I always get their newsletter," Mink said. "When I saw an ad for the Upromise Tuition Tales video contest, my fiancé told me that I was crazy not to enter. I only had three days to scramble before the deadline, but I did it."

Mink, 23, who grew up in Bristol, Va., and graduated from John Battle High School, said she is used to working fast.

"Even growing up, I stayed busy," she said. "I was very into academics and always had a job ... sometimes three!"

Through high school, she worked at Belle Meade Formalwear in the Bristol Mall, at IHOP at Exit 7, and at the Pizza Inn.

"There was a period of time that I worked at all three places just to help save up money for school," she said.

She also was captain of her SLACK team, a member of National Honor Society and maintained superior grades.

Now, she is a graduate of the Media Arts & Design program at James Madison University, and she used the skills gained earning that degree – and her music industry minor – to create the video.

But first, she checked out last year's entries.

"The other entries usually had someone talking in front of the camera, but I wanted mine to represent me," Mink said. "My life is fast-paced and quick. So I made my video very upbeat and rapidly changing, all while teaching people how to multi-task to save and pay for college. That is what I did and I wanted to teach other kids how to do it, too."

Then, she had to get the votes.

"It was so crazy how many of my family and friends rallied around me on the Internet to go watch and vote for my video," Mink said. "I have a large fan-base on Twitter and Facebook through my job, but people had to be convinced. They all thought I would use the money for a new car or something. That is the beauty of Upromise. You can't! The money goes into your Upromise account and can be used only to pay for school."

Her video garnered some 6,500 votes. But Mink said she hopes it sends home the message that anyone can save for college.

"Saving for college is possible and necessary," she said. "This scholarship is invaluable. It is literally changing my life."

A! ExtraTopics: Achievements