Sneen Maria Abukaram, student rower and winner of Dr. Pepper Tuition, won a $100,000 scholarship at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on December 4 during the first half of a Michigan Championship game against the Iowa B1 G Ten. Abu Karam was an infantry player on the 2020-21 women’s rowing team in Eastern Michigan, and is now in her second year with the rowing team. She specializes in cross-training and is originally from Sylvania, Ohio.
“This money will help me pay off my student loans and help overcome the stress of my family,” Abu Karam said.
This was the first year that Dr. Pepper hosted a college education contest on TikTok. In order to participate, participants had to submit a video about why they had chosen to participate in the competition and use the hashtag “#ideservetuition”.
Abu Karam posted a video about herself and the inspiring women in her life like her mother and grandmothers. In the video, she also talked about being the eldest of five siblings and aspiring to become an athletic coach for the Indianapolis Colts, her favorite NFL team. After her video was posted, it went viral and she was selected as a finalist for the contest.
“As a finalist, I also met Penn State linebacker Sean Clifford who shared with us insights into how not to overwhelm fans and tips for pre-plot practice,” Abukaram said.
Abu Karam mentioned that there is an initial throw to determine who will go to the finals. On the morning of the match, each contestant drew a number to see who would go first in the preliminary round. She pulled off second place out of the three contestants, and that’s exactly what she wanted. This gave her an advantage to see what score the first person scored, so she knew she had to beat that score.
A friend of Abu Karam’s family helped her, as well as her teammates, train for the event. Being a grind on the rowing team also helped her prepare. Abu Karam has a long history in sports. She attended The Bounty Collegium before enrolling in EMU, where she wrote letters across cross-country, football and track. Being an athlete contributed to Abu Karam’s success in the goal-throwing competition in the first half. She is also interested in studying abroad and is a coach and referee for youth soccer teams.
Abu Karam was feeling very nervous while taking on the final challenge in the B1G Ten Championship match.
“I was a ball of nerves at first, but I saw my mother behaving herself, screaming, ‘”We have some Dr Pepper contestants here! “With that, I decided for myself-”Yes, I will enjoy this and I will enjoy the game.”Abu Karam said. “Before we went out on the field, I knew if I lost, I’d still win $20,000, so somehow I really won. With that in mind, I decided to just enjoy the glory of it all – being on TV, the crowd cheering, And to be just part of the experience,” he said.
Abu Karam was very excited after winning the whole competition in front of 67,183 fans, the most who attended a B1G Ten Championship match in history.
“I felt really excited, knowing how this tuition fee can help myself and my family. Just being a part of the experience was really great! Winning this and being a part of Dr. Pepper opens up new opportunities for me.