Kayla Lyons

Stephen F. Austin State University junior marketing major Kayla Lyons of Houston won a video contest hosted by the Economics Reading Group. The contest required students to read J.D. Vance’s book “Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis” and post video summaries.

NACOGDOCHES, Texas — Stephen F. Austin State University’s Economics Reading Group, led by Dr. Ryan Phelps, associate professor in the Rusche College of Business, recently hosted a video contest about J.D. Vance’s book “Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis.”

The contest was open to all SFA students and tasked them with submitting videos summarizing the book. Members of the Rusche College of Business Student Advisory Council served as the judges and named junior marketing major Kayla Lyons of Houston as the winner. The videos were judged based on professionalism, content and entertainment value. Lyons received $1,000, donated by the Student Success Center, as the grand prize.

According to the judges, Lyons “had the most engaging and thoughtful replies to the book while also staying on track discussing the chapters. She made the videos interesting even for someone who had not read the book.”

“I am studying abroad next semester, so the fact that I won the prize means a lot because it will help financially,” Lyons said. “It also was a great feeling to analyze something and receive great feedback.”

The book addresses how Vance managed to break free from a broken culture and graduate from Yale Law School. Phelps explained the book also details the challenges of growing up in a troubled home, the economics of migration and factory towns, and the importance of seeing one’s potential to improve one’s outcomes through hard work and perseverance.

The contest was designed to open the Economics Reading Group to a wider audience, Phelps said. Additionally, the book was on the summer reading list for Generation Jacks, a first-generation student retention program at SFA, which meant more than 100 students and faculty members were invited to read the book.

“The contest encouraged students to post their opinions online regarding the book. Their opinions are now available to those interested,” Phelps said. “To date, the video submissions have garnered 541 views. I am grateful to the Student Success Center for donating the prize funds and to the students who posted their thoughts.”

To view the video submissions, visit https://www.facebook.com/SFA-Economics-Reading-Group-185064084897609/?ref=bookmarks.