2011 Brightest & Best scholarship winner

Congrats to Erin Gray of Clarkston High School, the winner of the 2011 Brightest and Best Scholarship from Channel 7 and Gardner-White Furniture!

This year Channel 7 teamed up with Gardner-White Furniture to present a $5,000 scholarship to the winner of the Brightest and Best Essay Contest. Brightest and Best students submitted 500 word essays on how to move our state forward by keeping young graduates working and living in Michigan.

Erin's essay:

The strength of Michigan depends on the strength of its workforce, therefore, action must be taken to attract talented young graduates. Marketing the beauty of our state through exciting images, apps, and financial incentives will increase the attractiveness of employment in Michigan. Investing in motivated youth to live, work, and play will be rewarding for all involved. The multifaceted MI_APP project will recruit those who take risks and demonstrate success through three channels that resonate with today's generation: a smartphone APP, a valuable APPrenticeship, and a student loan repayment APPlication.

The free MI_APP is the first bait available to be used by recruiters promoting Michigan. When companies are competing for top talent, this APP can show off the greatness of the Great Lakes State. The magnificent photo montage will play much like the ‘Pure Michigan' campaign. In addition it will be customized to show the most attractive hotspots for recent grads and new families: entertainment venues and festivals, parks and adventures, lofts and city nightlife. The MI_APP is easily shared with family and friends in smartphone or conventional website formats to help convince graduates that Michigan is the place to be!

The MI_APPrenticeship component provides the perfect test drive for the future graduate and employers to find good employment matches. Different from normal corporate internships, MI_APPrenticeship can take advantage of students' need for experience in their field of study and employers' need to make the best hiring decisions. Applying campus resources to extend APPrentice projects will build deeper bonds between business and academics. Projects can involve tasks that need a fresh perspective or regular work to support growth before fulltime employees are added. High wages are not needed because the value comes from the experience, the confirmation of desirable work and resume strengthening.

A final ‘carrot' to strengthen the Michigan candidate pool is the MI_APP student loan recovery APPlication. Substituting grants for loans and a method for dedicated students to have them forgiven could accomplish multiple results. The current method of providing something for nothing is rarely a strong motivator and does little to secure strong graduates to work in Michigan. The option to take on loan debt with a path to have a large portion forgiven shifts the financial situation from family wealth to student dedication. Loan forgiveness in exchange for employment in Michigan is a better way to allocate existing funds and drive those who succeed in college to consider living in Michigan.

The MI_APP project focuses on supporting higher education connected to reaping a payback for society. It packages youth focused recruiting methods and enticements in a capitalistic way to reward hard work and commitment and secure many of the brightest and best youth for a strong Michigan.

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