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UT Tyler student to compete for $100K tuition giveaway from Dr. Pepper at halftime of SEC Championship Game on CBS19

The game between Georgia and LSU will air Saturday, December 7, at 3 p.m. on CBS19.

TYLER, Texas — Dr. Pepper has announced the 20 finalists who will participate in the 11th annual Dr Pepper Tuition Giveaway during the upcoming College Football Conference Championship weekend and the group includes University of Texas at Tyler student Gilberto Cardenas.

During halftime of the SEC Conference Championship game, Cardenas will compete for $100,000 in tuition.  

Cardenas says he applied for the competition by sending in a short video.

"They just asked me to give a quick summary about yourself, post a picture and then they say to submit a video of one minute or less, talking about yourself showing your personality," Cardenas said.

Cardenas is a construction management major at UT Tyler and found out about his selection while at his internship.

"I was super busy and I came back to the office and I pulled out my personal phone, and I saw a missed voicemail," Cardenas said. "And then I saw a text message from a lady and she said: 'This is a representative from Dr. Pepper. Give us a call back when you can please.' And so right away, I knew what that was about."

Cardenas says he one day hopes to build housing for homeless veterans.

"I love this country," Cadenas said. "And I'm really thankful for what they've gotten us through. So it's just something I'd like to give back to them because I know there's many of them that are homeless. m. And so that's what I want to do when I grow up."

Finalists will take the field during five marquee games and attempt to throw the most number of footballs into an over-sized Dr. Pepper can in 30 seconds. 

The winning contestant receives $100,000 in tuition, and the runner-up receives $25,000 in tuition. In total, Dr. Pepper will award $1 million in tuition through this year’s program.  

The finalists, ranging from 18-24 years old and hailing from across the country, were selected based on video submissions to Dr. Pepper explaining how the tuition money will help them make an impact in the world. 

Check out Cardenas' video submission here.

Finalists include: 

Dr Pepper ACC Championship

  • Stephanie I., Jaidyn M., Hannah P., Jack U.

Big 12 Championship

  • Cesar M., Teagan Q., Jazlyn R., Ciara W.

SEC Championship

  • Gilberto C., Andrea G., Kaitlin M., Max W.

Big Ten Championship

  • Marcus A., Joseph B., Tyler G., Patrick H.

Pac-12 Championship

  • Destiny A., Sofia O., Ana R., Kinlie W. 

"Dr. Pepper and college football go hand-in-hand, and the Dr. Pepper Tuition Giveaway not only demonstrates our commitment to the sport, but it is also our way of giving back to the fans by enabling them to make their academic goals a reality,” said Derek Dabrowski, Vice President of Brand Marketing for Dr. Pepper. "This is an incredible group of finalists, all of whom have big plans to make a difference with the money they are trying to win. We are proud to be a part of their journey, and we can’t wait to see them take the field this weekend.” 

To date, the Dr. Pepper Tuition Giveaway has provided college students with more than $10 million in tuition, which has enabled them to achieve their goals and realize their academic dreams. 

“Entering the Dr Pepper Tuition Giveaway changed my life,” said Nikki Boon, day-to-day manager for a country music artist and a 2010 Dr. Pepper Tuition Giveaway winner. “Because of this contest, I was able to attend a fantastic school and pursue my dream of working in the music industry. You never know where life will take you, and I’m so thankful that I took a chance to enter this program.” 

Follow or interact with Dr. Pepper on Facebook, Instagram @drpepper, and Twitter @drpepper.