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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


    $25,000 To Make a Stony Brook Student’s Dream Come True

    John Callejas, a sophomore at Stony Brook University, spent four weeks of his summer vacation at the New York Film Academy learning filmmaking, editing, cinematography, and directing. But all that work, and the $4,000 it cost his family, will all go to waste if he doesn’t get into film school.

    That’s where Upromise, a business that helps families save money for college, comes in.

    Callejas, along with over 250 other people from across the nation, entered a contest, which Upromise calls “Tuition Tales,” in which contestants have the chance to win $25,000 to go towards his film school education.

    To enter the contest, Callejas had to make a video telling viewers why he deserved the $25,000 prize. And by luck, skill, or both, his video, “Passion,” was chosen as one of the final 10 videos to be judged. This time, however, the videos will be judged based on the votes of viewers from the United States, anyone 18 years or older.

    His video can be found, and voted for, at, and voting for the videos in the competition ends at midnight on Apr. 16.

    In Calleja’s 30-second video, which he spent five days of his spring break creating and perfecting, he explains that without the help of Upromise, his “visions are just ideas.”

    Still, regardless of the outcome of the competition, John is determined to go to film school and fulfill his dreams. “If I don’t win, even though I hope I do, I’m going to have to take out a loan,” he said.

    He already applied and has been accepted to Five Towns College in Dix Hills, N.Y., whose undergraduate tuition for Fall 2008 is $8,700, according to the college’s website. If all goes well, Callejas said he would be transferring there next semester.

    Currently a member of Alpha Phi Delta, John spends most of his free time skateboarding, making music — he plays the guitar — or taking photos. Oh, and making films, of course. His interest in filming, he said, came mostly from his fraternity brothers who had an interest in it, too.

    “I want to write and direct my own stuff,” he said. He explained that he’s currently working on a project for his fraternity with some other members that will include slideshows as well as a series of short clips.

    One of his biggest inspirations, he said, is American screenwriter and director Kevin Smith, and Callejas also named “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” by Michael Gondry as one of his favorite films.

    Callejas’ parents fully support his decision to go to film school, and it was actually his mom who told him about Upromise’s contest. He said he really wants to get the scholarship so that he wouldn’t have to burden his parents with his expenses.

    Callejas also wants to make sure his little sister has as many opportunities as she can when it’s time for her to go to college. “If she wants to go to Harvard or something, she should be able to,” he said. Callejas said he mainly came to Stony Brook because of its low tuition.

    Although he’s competing against nine other people, Callejas said he’s confident in his video. “All the videos that are in the top definitely deserve to be up there,” he said. “But I showed that I could be a good artist and make a good video.”

    For Callejas, winning the $25,000 would mean the world. And it would also give him the opportunity to make his dreams a reality.

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