Navid Radfar, sophomore biology major at the College, stumbled upon a Dr Pepper scholarship ad on Facebook during the summer, so with nothing else to do, he decided to go buy a Dr Pepper and make a video to submit for the scholarship.
The Dr Pepper Tuition Giveaway gave students the opportunity to win a $100,000 scholarship at the Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C. during halftime of the ACC Championship Game on Saturday, Dec. 1. All applicants had to submit a video explaining why they deserved the scholarship.
In November, Radfar was on his way to the Brower Student Center for meal equiv when he got the call that changed his life.
“I got a call from a doctor’s office and I thought it was health services, because I owe them $5,” Radfar said about when he first got the call. But once he realized it was Dr Pepper calling to let him know they selected him to be a semi-finalist, “I was like ‘Oh my god, get out of here.’”
The scholarship, Radfar explained, will go toward paying for college and, eventually, medical school. Radfar knows that his hopes of becoming a neurosurgeon could bring him deep in debt. But his inspiration for that career path came from a personal experience.
When Radfar was in fifth grade, his father suffered a heart attack and went into a coma. A heart surgeon saved his father’s life after working for many hours.
“My life probably would have been completely different if he had not saved my father,” Radfar said. “I kind of want to do that for other people as well.”
Radfar received support and advice from fellow College students and professors.
“The TCNJ community was very supportive. Everyone was willing to help me. Everyone wanted to see me succeed, which was great,” Radfar explained.
Two semi-finalists would compete on the field during halftime to see who could throw more balls into a hole cut out of a large soda can in a given amount of time.
Howard Nelson, a business professor, advised Radfar to use the chest-pass, since past winners have also used this strategy.
The night before Radfar flew out to North Carolina for the competition, he
and his friends set up a mock competition in their dorm room to help him practice. They cut a two-foot diameter hole in a piece of cardboard, which was hung from the ceiling. With only three balls available for practice, his friends stood behind the cardboard, catching the balls and returning them to Radfar while timing him.
“We pretty much mimicked what we saw on TV,” Radfar explained.
Although Radfar admitted he does not drink soda often, Dr Pepper is the one soda he likes, now probably more than ever. “Who knew drinking a soda would get you $100,000?” Radfar said.
Out of 5,500 videos received, 20 were selected and then narrowed down to five semi-finalists.
Out of the five contestants there from the preliminary round, he tied for first place. Radfar lost the tiebreaker, but won when it mattered.
“I was on cloud 9. I jumped up, I yelled, I screamed,” Radfar recalled when he realized he won the toss. “I was probably the happiest kid in that stadium of 70,000 people.”
It was also a relief for him that his parents would not have to pay his whole tuition.
Radfar said he could not use his phone because he kept receiving text messages and phone calls of friends and family congratulating him. His Facebook page has been swarmed with posts and he even got over 400 “likes” on the photo of him holding his big Dr Pepper check.
This scholarship helped Radfar’s dreams become a reality. “When I submitted this video, I didn’t think I was going to get it, and I got it. Now I have college paid, and if I get into medical school, I know I can become a doctor and change the world.”