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COVID-19: Three College-Bound Westchester Students Latest To Earn Scholarship In Vax Program

Adolescents receiving the COVID-19 vaccine received scholarships for any SUNY or CUNY school.
Adolescents receiving the COVID-19 vaccine received scholarships for any SUNY or CUNY school. Photo Credit: Mount Vernon School District

Three teens in Westchester County are among 10 statewide who are the latest to receive a full ride to any SUNY or CUNY school after being chosen in the second to last round of New York’s “Get a Shot to Make Your Future’ COVID vaccination campaign.

Last month, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that the state is raffling off scholarships to New Yorkers between the ages of 12 and 17 who go out and get a COVID-19 vaccine in the next several weeks.

Scholarships include full tuition and board to any public college or university for the full four years for adolescents who get their shot.

Among the latest winners in the second round were Westchester residents Sawyer Pineda, Ben Lesher, and Talia Campbell, who now have their choice of going to school for free post-graduation when they head off to college.

Other winners statewide were:


  • Yueqi Diao, of Broome County;
  • Cristopher Tejada, of Queens;
  • Amaya Thalappillil, of Nassau County;
  • James Robinson IV, of Cayuga County;
  • Bryce Chua, of Queens;
  • Paige Geary, of Monroe County;
  • Kailey Annesi, of Monroe County.

"Getting vaccinated is the key to our success defeating COVID-19 and restoring the economy, and this extraordinary incentive for the state's young people has helped us put shots in arms across New York," Cuomo said. "This life-changing opportunity has helped us spread the word to an important demographic—12- to 17-year-olds—about the importance of getting vaccinated.

"I congratulate this week's winners and look forward to seeing them thrive in our state."Cuomo previously estimated that the total value of the four-year scholarships could exceed $100,000 for families."

Each week through Wednesday, July 7, 10 students were chosen for scholarships through the raffle in New York. Anyone who receives a vaccine during the program will have their name in each drawing moving forward.

The final drawing is next week.


"We continue to encourage our younger populations to realize the benefits of getting vaccinated to regain normalcy across New York State and on our campuses," SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras added.

"The 'Get A Shot to Make Your Future' initiative continues to help us move forward and achieve this goal. My congratulations to the fifth-round winners receiving this scholarship as we prepare to welcome them to SUNY's colleges and universities, and our offerings for high-quality education."

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