LaGuardia Community College Students Take First Prize in Federal Reserve Financial Awareness Video Contest

Long Island City, NY—Three LaGuardia Community College student filmmakers produced a video on financial literacy that took first prize in the fourth annual Financial Awareness Video Competition sponsored by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

The team of Byron Guinanzaca, Christian Guinanzaca and Estela Melendez produced “Repair Your Credit—Repair Your Life,” a 30-second public service announcement that warned young adults about the dangers of taking on too much debt.  The PSA was up against 40 videos submitted by students from colleges and universities in New York, northern New Jersey and Connecticut.

The winners will share a $2,500 award and will see their video screened at select movie theaters throughout New York City and posted on the New York Fed’s website.   It will also be distributed to schools, nonprofit groups and financial literacy organizations.

“From student loans to credit cards, college often is the first time students are exposed to credit—both the benefits and potential problems,” said Kausar Hamdani, senior vice president of Regional and Community Outreach at the New York Fed.  “This competition aims to ensure students learn early about the dos and don’ts of good credit usage.”

The three LaGuardia students collaborated to produce a video that profiles a young man who sets up his own sensible payment plan and is able to retire his credit card debt after eight years.   As the debt-free actor walks to his car, he says, “It was worth it in the end, because new doors open up and new opportunities come along.”

“Estela, Christian and Byron make a great team,” said Professor Joyce Rheuban, LaGuardia’s director of media programs.   “Together, they produce quickly, efficiently, and creatively, while delivering quality.  They could be working professionally right now‑‑but we’re glad they’re getting a LaGuardia degree so we can brag some more about them when they are successful alumni.”

“We made LaGuardia proud,” said Estela.  “The competition was intense.  Our video was up against 44 entries from 12 colleges, many of whom were four year public and private institutions.”

Judging the entries were actor Ashley Springer, the Tribeca Film Institute’s Jose Rodriguez, and personal finance expert Suze Orman.  Ms. Orman, who hosts CNBC’s “Suze Orman Show,” enthusiastically praised this and other efforts by LaGuardia students.  The winning video was shown on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”  After airing the 30-second message, the show’s host, Steve Liesman, CNBC’s senior economics reporter, remarked that what was refreshing about the students’ video was that it had a positive message. 

“It follows this behavioral economic idea of a positive message,” he said.  “A lot of videos showed people who were destitute at the end.   This guy got his act together.”

For three consecutive years, LaGuardia students have made impressive showings at the competition.  In 2010 they captured first and second place; in 2011 the college had five finalists; and this year another top prize.

“The success of our young filmmakers in the Federal Reserve Bank competition is just another example of the outstanding skills of our students,” said Dr. Gail O. Mellow, president of LaGuardia Community College.  “Our media arts and technology programs attract first-rate students and our extraordinary faculty are helping these young filmmakers develop the skills needed to succeed in an extremely competitive industry.”

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LaGuardia Community College located in Long Island City, Queens, was founded in 1971 as a bold experiment in opening the doors of higher education to all, and we proudly carry forward that legacy today. LaGuardia educates students through over 50 degree, certificate and continuing education programs, providing an inspiring place for students to achieve their dreams. Upon graduation, LaGuardia students’ lives are transformed as family income increases 17%, and students transfer to four-year colleges at three times the national average. Part of the City University of New York (CUNY), LaGuardia is a nationally recognized leader among community colleges for boundary-breaking success educating underserved students. At LaGuardia we imagine new ideas, create new curriculum and pioneer programs to make our community and our country stronger. Visit to learn more.