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June 6, 2024   •   News  

Three High School Students Win SAFE’s Sticker Design Contest

FOLSOM, Calif. (May 22, 2024) – Attending a university. Embracing the world’s possibilities. Playing in a rock band. These are the dreams the winners of SAFE Credit Union’s annual high school sticker design contest portrayed in reflecting this year’s contest theme, “Dream Big with SAFE.”

For the second year, the credit union invited students attending high school within the 13 counties SAFE serves to design stickers to be distributed in SAFE branches and given to the winners’ schools. A committee of SAFE Marketing Team employees chose the finalists from dozens of entries.

“We were so impressed with the students’ talent, it was hard to choose,” says SAFE Credit Union Vice President Marketing Amber DiBernardo. “We saw designs that reflected so many hopes and dreams, including travel, future careers, and art inspired by Sacramento. In the end, we chose three winners based on reflecting the theme, quality of artwork, and how easily it could be made into a sticker.”

Winners received Visa gift cards, with first place receiving $500, second place $300, and third place $100.

The winners were: first place Liliya Ostapenko, whose design shows a girl at university; second place Alexandra Giongco, who portrayed a girl giving a huge hug to the world; and third place Judah Sharma, who drew a colorful band going on their Dream Big Tour.

SAFE branches will distribute the winning stickers in late May. They will be available to SAFE members and as well as the public.


First-Place Winner Liliya Ostapenko

First-Place Sticker 2024

Ostapenko, a sophomore at Mesa Verde High School, says the inspiration for her sticker comes from her dream of attending a college or university after graduating in two years.  

"I think a good steppingstone would be to go to college to figure out what I want to do,” she says.  Ostapenko adds her winning design portrays imagery of “a little me looking at a big college, and that is really my dream, to go to college to find out what I really want to do for the rest of my life.”


Ostapenko says she draws inspiration from her favorite artist, Canadian-mixed media artist Chris Hong. “I love her art process and how she brings all these different materials into her art. Some of her paintings are Disney-like, and some of her other art is mystical and soft,” she says.

Ostapenko has been creating art since she was 3 years old. Enamored with the practice for so long, she says it is hard to choose her favorite kind of art to create -- whether using watercolors, digital tools, sculpting or drawing. “I always have a pencil in my hand and paper around me, she says. ”All of my greatest ideas come that way, and I can let go and draw anything.”


Second-Place Winner Alexandra Giongco


Giongco is graduating from Marysville Charter Academy for the Arts this spring. The Yuba City resident says her design depicts a girl holding the Earth that represents the Dream Big theme on several levels.

"When one dreams big, the world is theirs and there are unlimited possibilities. However, the world is also in their hands, meaning that it’s their responsibility, like having strong financial habits, to make those big dreams come true,” Giongco says. 


Her personal dream is to work in the animation industry as a character designer. “Doing art as a career often feels like an unrealistic dream for young artists, but I have always been determined to do just that,” she says.


Third-Place Winner Judah Sharma


Sharma says he dreams of playing music professionally one day and that he “wanted to make his design loud, colorful and chaotic -- a reflection of both the passion I have for music and how music makes people feel.”

"I’ve always been playing guitar and making fun songs for longer than I can remember, trying to mix music and art, but I’ve always had a dream to perform for people,” says Sharma, who will graduate from Ghidotti Early College High School in Grass Valley.



Sharma says his obsession with drawing began at a young age, and “when I was around 10 and got my first-ever personal sketchbook, that’s when I felt like I wanted to be an artist and (how I wanted to) spend the rest of my life.”

The sticker contest is just one of many ways SAFE supports young people and the community at large through financial education, scholarships, and philanthropy.

To learn more about SAFE’s sticker contest or to interview Vice President Marketing Amber DiBernardo or the 2024 sticker winners, please contact AVP Communications and PR Carole Ferguson at [email protected] or (916) 836-6318.




About SAFE

SAFE Credit Union has made members an integral part of its vision since 1940. Over the years the credit union has kept the focus on what really matters, putting members first, a formula that has seen SAFE grow into a leading financial institution in Northern California with $4.6 billion in assets and about 236,000 members. SAFE crafts every cutting-edge product and sterling service with members’ needs foremost in mind. In addition to banking services conveniently available through online, chat, mobile, or phone options, SAFE offers in-person services for members and small businesses at service centers across the Greater Sacramento region. SAFE is a not-for-profit, state-chartered credit union with membership open to businesses and individuals living or working in Sacramento, Placer, Yolo, El Dorado, Sutter, Butte, Nevada, Solano, San Joaquin, Contra Costa, Yuba, Amador, and Alameda counties. Insured by NCUA.


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