Anti meth awareness contest

Haley Westphal, a University of South Dakota student from Battle Creek, Iowa, displays the storyboard for a campaign she created for the NO.METH.EVER public awareness contest. Westphal won the contest, which was sponsored by the South Dakota Attorney General's Office.

Tim Hynds, Sioux City Journal

VERMILLION, S.D. | Some people claim to do their best work under deadline pressure.

Only when the clock starts ticking down do they buckle down and focus. Those who prefer preparation to winging it at the last minute will probably never understand.

For whatever reason, it works for some people.

Haley Westphal doesn't call herself a procrastinator, but the University of South Dakota senior acknowledged that an approaching deadline is a motivating force for her to do good work.

Her ability to work on deadline recently showed when she was named the winner of the South Dakota Attorney General office's NO.METH.EVER advertising contest, an upcoming marketing campaign to counteract the increase in methamphetamine usage.

Westphal admits that her entry wasn't something she labored over for days, editing and rewriting until it was just right. It took her about 20 minutes, and she thought that by the time it arrived at the attorney general's office by mail, it would have missed the deadline.

"I made it, printed it out, signed the papers that went with it and had my mom mail it," said Westphal, a Battle Creek, Iowa, native who now lives in Holstein, Iowa, and drives to the USD campus in Vermillion twice a week to attend class.

A media and journalism major who also is working on a minor in sports marketing and media, Westphal had seen posters advertising the contest in USD classrooms, and one of her professors encouraged her students to enter. Westphal said she'd been doing similar projects in class, so she decided to enter.

"We'd been doing that type of stuff anyway, so what's one more?" she said of her thought process. "What the heck? That's seriously what it was. I really didn't expect anything out of it."

For the campaign, Westphal needed to develop a script and storyboards for a TV commercial that could be used as part of the anti-meth marketing campaign. Westphal said she didn't know much about meth, so she did some quick internet research, found some photos she could download, wrote a few lines ... and that was it.

Her entry is one of those less-is-more type of commercials showing three people: one homeless, another living in a hotel room and a third sitting in the back of a police car. A message accompanying the photos says "This wasn't supposed to be my life."

Then the images show a younger version of each person using meth. "Meth changed that for me," the script says.

"There's not much to it," said Westphal, a 2014 graduate of Odebolt-Arthur/Battle Creek-Ida Grove High School and the daughter of Paula Westphal and Darby Westphal.

Westphal thought her chances of winning were slim to none, partly because she believed she'd probably missed the entry deadline. She found out otherwise in December, when she was notified that she'd won the regional competition. In early January, she received an email from the attorney general's office notifying her that she'd won the overall contest.

On Feb. 2, Westphal went to Pierre, where she had her picture taken with Gov. Dennis Daugaard and Attorney General Marty Jackley. The South Dakota Senate briefly paused its work to recognize her.

And she saw the other entries.

"Some people really went in-depth. It's just seriously mind blowing that they picked this one," said said, motioning to a printout of her storyboards. "It's crazy. I don't think it's too outstanding."

Westphal wasn't told why her entry was chosen, but that's OK with her. It was a fun experience, and the $4,500 prize paid for a lot of tuition expenses.

It's a good payoff for something that Westphal admittedly had put off until the last minute. She's obviously one of those people who works well under pressure.

"If it has to be done," she said, "you have to do whatever."

Especially if that deadline is right on top of you.

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