UPDATE: Blacksburg student advances to finals in film contest

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A Blacksburg student competing in an international film contest has advanced to the finals.

Mia Lazar's short film on Epigenetics was selected as one of the top fifteen entries in the Breakthrough Junior Challenge.

If she wins, she'll earn $100,000 for science lab upgrades for her school, $50,000 for a teacher, and a $250,000 scholarship.

"It would be amazing to win. But it's pretty unlikely that I would, but it would be much easier for me to go to college and that would be really cool," stated Lazar.

The winner will be announced on December 3.


A student in one of our hometowns has almost made it to the end of an international film contest.

She could win a large scholarship and money for her school. But she needs help from her region.

The contest is called the the Breakthrough Junior Challenge. Students submit a short video explaining a scientific theory, concept, or principle.

15-year old Mia Lazar picked Epigenetics.

In her video, she said, "Epigenetics. How your traits can be affected by factors other than changes in the genetic code."

Mia first heard about Epigenetics while doing a school project on Lupus, a genetic disease.

She said, "I had never heard of this before, so I really wanted to learn more about it, and when I heard about the Breakthrough Junior Challenge, I knew what I wanted to do it on."

Now in the semi-finals, if she were to win there are three prizes, including a $250,000 college scholarship.

Mia's mother Molly said, "It would literally be life-changing to have that kind of financial assistance in going to college, the sky's the limit, she could go wherever she wants."

Molly said, as of now, the family has only been discussing state schools due to the cost of college.

But it's not just about Mia.

Other prizes would help her school, like the $100000 to upgrade the science labs at Blacksburg High School.

"I'd really love to help the school, because it's helped me so much and inspired me to keep on working," the Blacksburg High School sophomore said.

Finally, Mia picked one of her teachers from last year, Jeanette Delpercio, to receive a $50,000 gift, is she wins first prize.

"She's enthusiastic and creative, and that's kind of what I want to do in my films, I want to be enthusiastic and creative and try to inspire other people's learning," Mia said.

As of Monday, Mia is one of 29 semi-finalists, one of only ten from the United States.

Part of getting to the Final 5 is a popular vote, where people like or
share her video on the Breakthrough Junior Challenge Facebook page.

The voting period is open until Thursday November 2, when the finalists will be determined.

While the prizes would be amazing for Mia and Blacksburg, she said she didn't enter for the winnings.

She just enjoys putting together short films to explain complicated subjects, like Epigenetics, to others.

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