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West Virginia State Treasurer John Perdue recognized two Harrison County student essay contest winners and presented $500 checks to each of their schools Tuesday morning.

Johnson Elementary first grade student Haniya Rafique and Simpson Elementary fourth grade student Joshua Love are among 15 regional winners in the 2017 SMART529 When I Grow Up essay contest. As a result, each student’s school received a $500 cash award. Treasurer Perdue visited both schools to present the checks.

Johnson Elementary first grade class
“Every year I’m surprised and impressed by the students’ career choices and their ability to describe their goals at such a young age,” Perdue said.


To be selected as a regional winner, Rafique wrote about becoming a chef when she grows up. Love wrote about becoming a construction engineer. Coincidentally, Love is the fifth child in his family to be selected as a regional winner over the contest’s 10-year span. The contest is judged by an independent panel of judges who have backgrounds in either education or writing. It is judged blindly, with the contestants names removed before the judges review the essays.

Love Family with State Treasurer John Perdue
“It is quite remarkable that the Love family has mastered the essence of this contest. We were shocked to see another child from the family receive the award, but clearly the Loves understand that advanced planning, an early start to saving, and dreaming big are what this contest is all about,” Perdue said.

In addition to the $500 cash prize awarded to each winner’s school, each essay contest winner will receive $500 invested into a SMART529 college savings plan.


The students will be individually recognized at a statewide awards ceremony in Charleston in September. At that time, each student will be entered into a random drawing for a chance to win the grand prize, a total of $5,000 invested into a SMART529 account.

SMART529 is West Virginia’s college savings program issued by the West Virginia College Prepaid Tuition and Savings Program Board of Trustees and is administered by The Hartford. Treasurer Perdue serves as chairman of the Board. This is the tenth year for the essay contest.

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