* WINNER: Mike Hayes of Chicago for the unique, imaginative way he financed his college education. He did so by getting a syndicated columnist to ask people to donate just a penny each. Four years and $29,000 later, Hayes has graduated from the University of Illinois. He had the sense to go for the cents.

* WINNERS: Returning veterans of the Persian Gulf war. A grateful nation is showering them with gifts and discounts such as tickets to baseball games, free admission to amusement parks, deals on new cars, cut rates on airline flights, complimentary hotel rooms, free lunches and free taxi rides. What a welcome contrast to the despicable treatment often accorded veterans of Vietnam.* WINNER: Eighteen-year-old Carl Douglas of Washington, D.C. Douglas turned his life around at a home for abused and neglected children, became president of his high school class, and is on his way to college. He is among the 60 black students from the Washington area honored this week by Project Excellence. Another big winner is syndicated columnist Carl Rowan, who founded the scholarship program in an effort to counter the corrosive peer pressure that sometimes discourages young people in big city ghettos from even trying to succeed in school.

LOSERS: The growing number of Americans who still haven't figured out the practical advantages of simple morality. A new report shows that Americans are contracting syphilis at the rate of 20 cases per 100,000 people - a 75 percent jump since 1985 and the highest level of the sexually transmitted disease since 1949. Among the biggest losers on this score are the nation's large cities, where the very highest rates are found.

LOSER: The man in Canton, Ga., who was gored to death this week by a goat he had been beating. The reason for the beating? He was trying to make the animal mean. Talk about poetic justice.

LOSERS: Smokers. A new study at the University of Utah indicates that smokers are more likely to develop wrinkles than non-smokers, and the more they smoke the more wrinkles they are likely to develop. Smoking, then, is a hazard to one's appearance as well as to one's health.