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WKSU, our public radio partners in Ohio and across the region and NPR are all continuing to work on stories on the latest developments with the coronavirus and COVID-19 so that we can keep you informed.

Mayfield Village Teen Zoie Vincent Wins Vax-A-Million College Scholarship

an image of Zoie Vincent, vax-a-million college scholarship winner
The Ohio Channel
Zoie Vincent is currently a junior at Mayfield High School.

A Cuyahoga County teen is the newest winner of a full-ride college scholarship as part of Ohio’s Vax-a-Million lottery program.

Zoie Vincent, a Mayfield Village resident, was picked as the scholarship winner out of more than 132,000 Ohioans between the ages of 12 and 17 who have entered the vaccine lottery so far.

“It came out of nowhere. We weren’t really expecting it at all. It was this super big surprise, and we were all really excited about it,” Vincent said.

Vincent is the second teenager to win a scholarship and the second overall Vax-a-Million winner from Northeast Ohio. The first winner of Ohio's $1 million vaccine lottery prize was Abbigail Bugenske, a Shaker Heights native and 2016 graduate of Shaker Heights High School who recently moved to Silverton, near Cincinnati.

Vincent signed up for the lottery while waiting to receive her second dose and found out she won while traveling abroad for a family member’s wedding, she said during a Thursday press conference with Gov. Mike DeWine.

She says having COVID-19 herself and being the sickest she’s ever been contributed to her decision to get the vaccine.

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“If I can somehow guarantee that I will never feel this way again or that my family won’t have to feel this way again, I felt like I would definitely take it and so I did get the vaccine.”


Vincent will be a senior at Mayfield High School this fall and participates in her school’s med-tech program, she said. She hopes to pick a college major in the medical field.

“I've been looking at a lot of colleges that have pre-med or bio programs," Vincent said. "I've been interested in medicine and science for as long as I can remember."

As a rising senior, Vincent is in the early stages of her college search process, with Case Western Reserve University and The Ohio State University currently at the top of her list. 

Winning the Vax-a-Million scholarship will help her save up for medical school, she said.

“I can finally be able to focus on my later education and med school, hopefully, rather than have to worry about taking out student loans later on," Vincent said. “I felt a weight off my shoulders, sort of, because I could really see my career ahead of me, instead of seeing a time of me paying off my debt.”

Toledo resident Jonathan Carlyle won the $1 million lottery this week.

Carlyle knew he wanted to get the COVID-19 vaccine after his sister and brother-in-law both contracted the virus. But he kept putting it off, because he was busy with work. He says the Vax-a-Million lottery announcement gave him the nudge he needed.

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“When y’all announced the Vax-a-Million, as soon as I heard that I was like, ‘Yes, I need to do this now,’ and I think it was two days later I went to the Lucas County rec center and got the Johnson and Johnson shot.”

Carlyle works as an Amazon delivery driver. He and his girlfriend are raising three children, including a five-month-old son. He hopes to put some of the money toward finding his family’s forever home.

Ohio’s vaccination rates have soared after Gov. Mike DeWine’s announcement of the lottery, with rates jumping to 55 percent for 20- to 49-year-olds within one week of the announcement.

How the scholarship works
The scholarship money will be placed in a 529 college savings account that can be used for any university and is pegged to the cost of tuition, fees, room and board, and books at Ohio’s most expensive public university, DeWine said.

The Vax-a-Million program is a statewide sweepstakes to encourage Ohioans to receive COVID-19 vaccines. Anyone aged 18 and over who has received at least one dose of the vaccine can sign up for the $1 million drawing, and children ages 12 to 17 who have received one dose can enter for the full-ride scholarship incentive.

About 56 percent of Ohio adults have received at least one dose of the vaccine as of Thursday, DeWine said.

This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.

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