When the lights went out in Falls Church, Va., during a snowstorm, first-grader Sarah Gomez-Lane found inspiration by taking part in a contest sponsored by multinational tech giant Google. Faced with hours of being trapped indoors with no electronic entertainment, her mom’s spontaneous suggestion to enter the annual Doodle-4-Google contest appealed to her, and the little girl set to work. Armed with colored pencils and a sheet of paper, Sarah created a prehistoric-themed masterpiece — a doodle that would eventually become the winner of D4G’s 10th annual contest and yield a whopping financial reward for Sarah.
Among the hundreds of thousands of contest entries, Gomez-Lane’s doodle gleamed a little bit brighter to Google’s esteemed panel of judges, which included actor Neil Patrick Harris; Olympic gold medalists Ibtihaj Muhammad and Laurie Hernandez; and 2017 National Teacher of the Year, Sydney Chaffee. From there, her entry advanced to public voting, reached the national-finalist level and was ultimately chosen as the final winner by Google executives, which allowed her to reap thousands of dollars to pay for her college education.
Google was thrilled with the results, and quite impressed by Gomez-Lane’s inspiration and ambition: “We fell in love with Sarah’s rendering of her dinos, and were blown away by her big (you might even say “dino-sized”!) ambitions for her future, especially at her young age.”
To honor the contest’s final winner, Google awarded Gomez-Lane $30,000 to use toward a college scholarship, and her Falls Church, Va., school also benefited, receiving a $50,000 award to spend on technology. Google hopes that the tools purchased with the technology award will inspire other students like Gomez-Lane to pursue their dreams.
But the accolades don’t stop there. Gomez-Lane will be the first-ever participant in a new Doodle-for-Google contest experience that will transform her doodle into something extraordinary, according to Google. Gomez-Lane will partner with the Doodle team in a behind-the-scenes experience to make her Doodle interactive. Once the artwork is brought to life by the artist and team Google, it will eventually be featured on Google’s homepage.
Gomez-Lane’s winnings are especially good news in light of the recent revelation that the $1.5 trillion student debt crises has hit women hardest.
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This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: Google Gave $30,000 to a 7-Year-Old for a Dinosaur Doodle