Nevin Atodaria

Out of hundreds of submitted essays, Nevin Atodaria, 11, from Fireside Elementary in Scottsdale is one of 13 winners throughout the state. 

Ella Day dreams of being author when she grows up.

Thanks to the Arizona Family College Savings Plan’s first-ever essay writing contest, the Archway Great Hearts fifth-grader is one step closer to her goal.

“Winning the Arizona 529 contest has given me the confidence to pursue my dreams,” said Ella, 11. 

In celebration of its 20th anniversary, the Arizona Family College Savings Plan launched Arizona 529 last fall. 

The essay contest prompted fifth-graders from across the state to write about how they plan to change the world for the better in 20 years.

And after two months of accepting submissions last fall, the Arizona College Savings Program received hundreds of essays written by students from seven Arizona countries.

Ella is just one of 13 winners – one of four in Maricopa County alone – all of whom will receive $529 toward an AZ 529 college savings plan to be used for future qualified educational expenses.

A panel of judges then reviewed each essay and scored it based on the overall idea, organization, and originality.

Scottsdale had the most winning essays in the entire state.

“I feel very special and happy to win my first essay competition,” said Aydin Daniel, 10, of BASIS Scottsdale. “I will continue to add money in my AZ 529 account so I will have enough money when I am at college.”

The other two Maricopa County winners are Samuel Lipovitch from Madison Traditional in Phoenix and Nevin Atodaria from Fireside Elementary in Scottsdale.

“The news for my being one the winners of the contest honestly made me ebullient,” said Nevin, 11. 

In his essay, Nevin wrote he plans to change the world by “finding ways to eliminate cancer cells completely and ensure they do not hurt their host.”

“I believe the college fund was very assisting and has brought my written-down dream one step closer to a beautiful reality,” Nevin said.

Other strategies for improving the future include ending homelessness, creating a greener, more sustainable earth (Aydin) and spreading kindness.

“In 20 years, I plan to change the world through kindness!” Ella wrote.

“Reading through the contest submissions was both encouraging and uplifting,” said Deena Lager, director of the Arizona Family College Savings Program. 

“We couldn’t believe how many unique, heart-warming ideas for changing the world were shared with us by these incredible fifth-grade students,” Lager added.

In addition to awarding students for their ideas and originality, the goal of the essay writing contest was to raise awareness of the state’s 529 plan.

Arizona’s 529 plan offers a state-sponsored, tax-advantaged way to set money aside for higher educational pursuits.

“The AZ 529 Program is excited to recognize Arizona’s youth for their passionate dreams of a brighter future with a $529 boost their college savings,” Lager said.


Ella Day, 11, from Archway Great Hearts in Scottsdale is one of four fifth-graders in Maricopa County who won Arizona College Savings Program’s first essay writing contest. Aydin Daniel, 10, is a fifth-grader at Basis Scottsdale. His essay submission, he wrote that he hopes to change the world for the better by creating a greener, more sustainable earth.