The seven children in the Hinojosa family grew up as a tightly knit group. Their parents home schooled them for almost eight years so they did not have much of a choice.
Eric, Ryan, Melissa, Juliana, Sara, Nathan and Aaron would blaze through their allotted schoolwork as fast as they could and the rest of the day would be spent outside where the kids would make up games with their neighborhood friends.
The family was shaken on June 2007, when Ryan was killed in a car accident involving a drunk driver.
“I was shocked,” said Juliana Hinojosa, Spanish sophomore. “It was kind of a numb feeling. I was really worried about the rest of my family. We were all really close.”
Hinojosa described her brother as an active guy who enjoyed playing basketball and could find humor in any situation.
“He lived in Ft. Hood in Killeen and on the weekends he would come home,” she said.
There were a few times during the holidays when Ryan’s friends would have no place to go so he would invite them to share the time with his family in San Antonio. Hinojosa said this sort of kindness was not unusual from her brother.
Hinojosa is now trying to teach others not to make the same mistake as the drunk driver.
She is one of 10 finalists in the Bridgestone’s America Safety Scholars Teen Driver Video Contest, which challenges teenagers to create 1-minute videos about driving safety. Hinojosa knew immediately what her video would be about.
“Ever since my brother died, driving safety has been a big part of every project I do,” Hinojosa said.
The contest has become something of a family affair for the Hinojosa family. Juliana thought of the concept and directed the clip, which features family members talking about how Ryan’s death has affected each of them. Eric, the eldest brother and a graduate of
New York University, has worked with Juliana at Alameda Studios in San Antonio and loaned her the camera used for the clip.
“I’ve worked with companies and crews,” Eric Hinojosa said. “I kind of had this advantage and I wondered if Juliana would be able to catch up and I was surprised and impressed. I’m pretty objective too but she showed a lot of independence in learning these programs that it took me months to learn.”
Juliana visualized the concept of the clip by herself.
“It’s obviously a very emotional topic for me,” Eric said. “Ryan’s death is always with me. It’s not like I see the clip and then remember he died. But I think she made the movie she wanted to make.”
Juliana said she hopes to make a difference using her talent.
“I would just like to get the message out and create awareness,” she said. “I want to make people think twice before driving drunk.”
Eric is thankful the contest exists.
“I think driving safety is important,” he said. “I think in America people don’t pay enough attention to it and it’s important because we’re hurting others.”
People who are interested can see the videos and vote in the contest by going to safetyscholarsvideo.com/index.php?/site/09top10. Voting ends Aug. 3.