MOORHEAD, Minn. --With a few words, incoming Minnesota State University Moorhead students could win big bucks.
The university is offering $12,000 in scholarships to incoming students who take to Twitter with the hashtag #BeADragon--a first for MSUM and possibly beyond.
"We've looked around, and we haven't seen anyone else who's done anything similar," said Doug Peters, interim vice president for enrollment management and student affairs.
Amid lagging enrollment, the hashtag is a way to get the school's name out, but Peters said it's also connecting with today's students where they are.
"We know that in today's world, people live in a couple different communities," Peters said. "They live in the community of the people they're with every day, but they also live in the social media community, and we thought it was an opportunity for us to engage prospective students in their virtual community."
The hashtag has been tweeted more than 1,000 times, he said Thursday.
Students who apply are judged on "how creatively you include Dragon Pride as you explain why you wish to #BeADragon," according to the scholarship rules.
For Haley Roed, that meant tweeting a video of her diving into a snowbank.
"Not even this MN storm can stop how #firedup I am to #BeADragon," she wrote Feb. 8 in a tweet that had almost 230 likes and almost 90 retweets by Friday. "I chose MSUM so I can STUDY and SWIM hard next year."
Camilla Herbel, an 18-year-old senior at Moorhead High School, also made a video, in which she interviewed her teachers about why they teach.
"I was trying to say that my high school teachers ... have inspired me to become a teacher," said Herbel, who plans to study art education at MSUM. "I want to learn how to be that impactful."
Herbel's video and accompanying tweet helped her win a $2,500 scholarship in late February, the first of four to be awarded. MSUM is also awarding $1,000 each to the student with the most likes and the student with the most retweets.
Herbel has applied for and received other scholarships, and she said this was simpler than most.
"I don't have to sit down for multiple hours to put together a five-page essay or anything like that. I can just send out a tweet," she said. "It's more comforting as a young person because, I mean, sending out a tweet is a lot more natural than sending out a really long college scholarship application."
The scholarship is open to incoming freshmen and transfer students who have been accepted to MSUM. The deadline for tweets is March 11.