Just after noon on March 1, first-year Early Childhood Education student Tori Watson tweeted about a Student Life Network (SLN) event taking place at Davis Campus in Brampton. The SLN – an organization that describes itself as “North America’s fastest-growing provider of awesome contests and exclusive experiences for Canadian college, university and high school students” – hosts an annual contest called Canada’s Luckiest Student and was preparing to reveal the name of this year’s winner.
As captured in her post, Tori approached the evening with nervous excitement, but was quite skeptical as to her chance of winning the ‘unprecedented’ contest. This despite the fact that she’d been participating in SLN campaigns, almost daily, for the past five years and racked up thousands of additional entries to the Canada’s Luckiest Student contest.
“We have a running family joke about ‘Watson bad luck’ so I didn’t think it was possible that I’d win,” Tori says. But that notion didn’t deter her from answering the majority of SLN’s trivia questions and completing social media tasks. It became part of her daily routine. And when she missed entry opportunities, she’d wait for a ‘zombie weekend’ – a period of time when old questions became valid once again – to catch up. When the host of the reveal party began listing off the number of campaigns completed and entries achieved by the winner, Tori thought to herself ‘oh wow, that person has put in a lot of effort.’
So when her name was called, Tori was in shock. “I think I opened my mouth but nothing came out,” she says. “I then realized, oh no! I have to go up on the stage.”
Fortunately, 15 members of her family and close friends were in on the surprise and waiting in the wings. In fact, they’d known about it for nearly six weeks and kept it a secret. “I didn’t start crying until I saw my parents,” says Tori. “It turns out my mom was tasked with getting me to the party and had been subtly encouraging me to go in the weeks leading up to it.”
On stage, Tori was presented with the grand prize: a $20,000 cheque courtesy of CIBC. “I have OSAP and a line of credit and face some big financial burdens,” she says. “This prize cut half of my debt load for my university degree and college. It’s amazing, truly life-changing.” In addition, she won two shopping trips, groceries for a year, a Casper bed, money for school books, $1000 to Pizza Pizza and trips to Blue Mountain, Costa Rica and Punta Cana. “I love to travel but have only been on one big trip,” she says. “These will be truly relaxing knowing that most of my expenses are paid!”
As nervous as Tori initially was to be in the spotlight, on stage, and in front of the crowd at The Den, she took quite naturally to her new duties that evening as Canada’s Luckiest Student. She was interviewed by Global News and the Brampton Guardian and took a slew of photos for the SLN. “Even though I hate public speaking, I want to help SLN promote this initiative,” she explains. “They do a lot to help students.”
The next morning, still buzzing from the excitement of the night before, Tori awoke to the oversized cheque leaning against the wall in her room. “I said to myself ‘oh yah! That’s mine. I didn’t dream it!” When asked what she’d tell others who might be skeptical about entering online contests, she says: “It sounds cliché but it takes patience and dedication. And it can pay off in more ways than one.”
Pictured at top of page: Tori Watson (second from left, front) with members of her family and students at The Den cheering. Photo by Ryan Bolton
Written by: Keiko Kataoka, Digital Communications Officer at Sheridan