There is only one expert. Only one person knows what it is like to win a brand new Jeep Renegade.
Jordan Collier was in the same position that 16 awesome students are this week. This week, those top students will interview with Citizen Potawatomi Nation Vice Chair Dr. Linda Capps and TDK Ferrites CEO Charlene Norvell.
If you have read the newspaper lately, you know one of our normal judges - OBU Director of Development Josh Trimble - is unable to participate in this year's interviews as he cares for family and his daughter Opal as she battles a rare infection.
TDK is one of our great new Best of News-Star Preps sponsors and Norvell has the perfect background and experience to help us finish the project.
Collier was a senior at McLoud High School last year at this time when her interview helped elevate her from a nominee to the first ever Student of the Year and a winner of a brand new Jeep Renegade from Patriot Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge-Ram of Chandler.
This isn't a lease. The student doesn't win it for a month or a year. Tatton Manning and Seth Knighton of the Patriot Auto Group give the vehicle to the student.
Collier said the prize was life-changing for her.
"Honestly, it has meant everything to me," said Collier, who is finishing her freshman year of college. "That sounds cheesy but, it’s true. College is such a fun experience but, it is also such a stressful experience. Not having to worry about a car payment or worry about my car at all besides getting it serviced regularly has been such a stress reliever."
It is easy to like someone who gives you a new car but trust me when I tell you, the Patriot team is incredible to work with. Collier can confirm that.
"The Patriot guys were so easy to work with and have even been helpful after they gave me the car," she said. "I have called a few times to just ask questions and, they never seemed put out to answer them. They were more than happy to help me."
As the one person who knows what it is like to win the new Jeep Renegade, Collier had some advice for this year's finalists.
"When my interview was approaching, I felt so unprepared. I felt like I should have practiced or had answers already thought out. As I was walking into the room, I was so anxious," she said. "That all went away though. I realized the interviewers did not want to hear practiced answers and, it was okay that I stuttered and fumbled on my answers a bit. So basically, my ultimate advice is to be yourself. Tell the judges honest answers, not just what you think they want to hear. Also, good luck to everyone! Have fun with this whole process. Congratulations to all the Students of the Month, that alone is a great honor."
It really is an honor to be nominated and all 15 finalists who don't win a new vehicle will receive a scholarship of $250 or $500.
Each month, schools nominate top seniors for the award. Judges select the best two of those nominees each month. The nominees aren't just selected by who has the highest grade point average or test scores. Community service, activities, leadership ability and character are all equally important.
This year's winners include 12 girls and 4 boys.
There is one student from Dale, two from McLoud, three from Shawnee, Bethel, and Tecumseh and four from Prague. It is another great group and I can't wait to learn more about them.
It is really difficult to know which one of these great young people will win a new Jeep Renegade and not be able to tell anyone.
But on May 6 when Manning and Knighton hand them the keys to that great new vehicle, it will all be worth it.