Winning illustration

St. David High School senior Johnny Schmidt received a sizeable scholarship for his efforts. 

 ST. DAVID — “I just couldn’t believe it!” That was the response from high school senior Johnny Schmidt upon learning he was recipient of a $10,000 scholarship courtesy of Arizona Milk Producers/Dairy Council Arizona. And that it happened live at halftime of the Jan. 1 Fiesta Bowl in Glendale before a national television broadcast only added to the excitement.

“Even when the cameraman came down to our seats to put us on the jumbotron, I was in shock and couldn't believe that I had done it,” said Johnny Schmidt who claimed the second place award after having entered the “Is Your ‘Stache Worth the Cash?” Contest. “I was shaking and Mrs. Hancock (One of my many St. David mom's) was pounding on me and screeching. I couldn't even believe what was happening.”

Contest winners were named at halftime of the New Year’s Day bowl game at University of Phoenix Stadium where Ohio State routed Notre Dame.

The scholarship couldn’t come at a better time for the St. David High School senior who aspires to pursue a career in pediatric medicine.

“I’m so grateful for this, and it just felt so good to see the work I had been putting into scholarships pay off,” Schmitt said. “It was such a happy moment for me and I just feel like my mom would be proud. All she ever wanted was for me to be able to pay for college, so I know she's smiling down on me now.”

Schmidt, along with the first and third place selectees, put their creativity to the test, illustrating their “best milk moustache.” They also had to submit an essay. Schmidt and company were selected from more than 500 entries.

“I really just wanted to involve something I loved, so I ended up going into the weight room. I had a picture of me taken in a mirror, held milk and cheese, and wore a milk mustache. But in the mirror, I was photoshopped to make my arms look really skinny and the mirror version of me held soda and chips. Then I inserted the caption ‘Life would be scary without my dairy.’ I've always loved rhymes and playing around with words so I was able to come up with a funny little rhyme there.”

Schmidt, who already is close to completing his Associate’s degree through Cochise College, is ready for the next phase with regard to his education.

“I plan to go to the U of A and apply for medical school in the future,” Schmidt said. “I eventually want to be a pediatrician, so this will definitely be helpful. I have so much schooling in front of me that this will definitely go to good use… this will all go towards my Bachelor's degree at the U of A.

To say Schmidt is appreciative would be an understatement.

“I'm incredibly thankful for organizations like AZ Milk Producers that give students like me a chance to get a good education,” he said. “Tuition rates have skyrocketed recently and paying for college is incredibly difficult for most. So these organizations that help kids like me achieve their dreams are so important to me. I hope all high school seniors take the time to apply for scholarships because as you can see, it can pay off really big.”

Nathan Marshall a senior at Corona del Sol High School won the grand prize of $12,000 and ASU student Jenny Butzbach took third for an $8,000 scholarship.