Neela Rogers, a second-grader at Temple Terrace Elementary School, didn't claim the big prize in a nationwide art contest. But she still was a winner.
Neela, 7, recently was named a runner-up in the 2012 Gerber Life College Scholarship Art Contest. Her artwork was among 20 entries receiving the highest numbers of votes. As a contest finalist, Neela received a $100 gift card and a children's book, "An Awesome Book!"
"Neela plans to put the $100 in savings," said her mother, Niccole Rogers. "She is saving for college. My husband and I have been teaching Neela about scholarships, college and savings since she was 5."
Neela is David and Niccole Rogers's only child.
It was Neela's decision to enter the contest; she loves art, her mother said.
"Art is like music, and it's beautiful," Neela said.
"She did all the work herself," Rogers said. "Because it was her decision to enter, I also allowed her to decide what to do with her winnings. She is clear that saving for college is important to her."
The contest targeted children ages 3 to 8. The online contest required each child to create a colorful piece of art using crayons or colored pencils. They had to draw what they want to be when they grow up.
Neela wants to be a fifth grade teacher.
"She is only in second grade," Rogers said, laughing. "I don't know why she wants to be a fifth grade teacher."
The White Plains, N.Y., based insurance company received art drawings from across the country. Entries were submitted online in August and posted on Gerber Life's Facebook page.
Relatives and friends were encouraged to go online from Aug. 1 to Sept. 15 to vote for their favorite entry. A panel of judges then selected the grand prize winner from among the 20 drawings with the most votes, the Gerber Life website stated.
Rogers credited Temple Terrace Elementary teachers and administrators, and members of Brownie Troop 927, for voting and supporting her daughter's efforts in the contest. Neela is a member of the Brownie troop based in Temple Terrace.