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Wendel Smith '14 is named a top 10 finalist in Bridgestone Americas Safety Scholars Video Contest.

POUGHKEEPSIE, NY  Wendel Smith, a native of Hot Springs, Arkansas and member of the class of 2014 at Vassar College, hopes the public will help him win a $10,000 scholarship in the fifth annual Bridgestone Americas Safety Scholar video contest. Smith is one of 10 finalists who have been selected in the national scholarship competition, which expanded this year to include entries from Canada.  The contest challenges 16-to 21-year old students to create short videos about safe driving and ways to make better decisions behind the wheel. Smith’s video was chosen from 1,466 entries received by Bridgestone Americas, Inc. A panel of judges selected the top 10 most compelling videos.  Finalists were chosen based on how well the videos encourage viewers to be more safety-conscious drivers and how effectively and creatively the message is communicated.

Smith’s video titled "txt l8ter," along with the other nine finalists, is now posted at The public will determine the three grand prize winners by voting online for their favorite video now through July 29 at midnight. The winners will be announced August 1. Finalists’ videos are also available for viewing on Facebook and YouTube. To vote for his video, go to

Using an artful approach through typogragraphy, Smith showcases all the distractions drivers face on a daily basis.  After a smattering of impressive statistics, Smith’s video concludes with, “be smart. txt l8tr.”

“I recently learned how to use typography through software, and I was interested in how you can create a powerful message through the movement of text and images,” says Smith. “I hope that by using a more simplistic approach that my video conveys the importance of making good decisions while driving.”

Smith continued, “I have been passionate about film since I picked up my first camcorder when I was 13. My thoughts have become increasingly consumed with how to shoot the best angle, how to create a certain effect using post-production tools, and how to effectively convey my message to viewers. I am honored that Bridgestone has allowed me to participate in this part of the campaign, and I am just thrilled to know that my video could help save lives.”

Smith is pursuing a double major in film and chemistry at Vassar.

“We are amazed every year at the talent and creativity that goes into these videos.  The judges’ decision is never easy,” said Angela Patterson Sikes, digital media coordinator, Community and Corporate Relations, Bridgestone Americas, who also manages the company’s teen driver safety initiatives.  “We’re committed to making our roads safer by encouraging our newest drivers to make smart decisions behind the wheel.  So it’s great to see so many young drivers who want to help their peers understand the importance of driving responsibly.”

As a finalist Smith wins a set of new Bridgestone-or Firestone-brand tires. If he’s selected as a grand prize winner, he receives a college scholarship ($10K for first place; $5K for second and third places) and the chance to have his video used as a public service announcement (PSA) on television stations across the country. These public service announcements are supported by Bridgestone Americas in cooperation with Driver’s Edge, a national non-profit organization which provides free classroom and behind-the-wheel defensive driving instruction for teens in cities across the United States.

In addition to Safety Scholars (, Bridgestone Americas has invested in a number of innovative driving and tire safety education initiatives specifically targeted at young drivers.  Bridgestone has created a website —— solely dedicated to providing online resources to young people to help them become better, safer drivers.  The company serves as the presenting national sponsor of Driver’s Edge, a hands-on safe driving course that’s offered free of charge to teens in select U.S. cities. Bridgestone Americas has also aired a series of tire safety public service announcements featuring Mario Andretti, legendary racer and Firestone spokesman.

Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential liberal arts college founded in 1861.

Posted by Office of Communications Monday, July 25, 2011