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

Zoie Vincent, a rising senior at Mayfield High School in Mayfield Village, is the second teen to win a full-ride college scholarship in the state's Vax-a-Million lottery program. [The Ohio Channel]
Zoie Vincent, a rising senior at Mayfield High School in Mayfield Village, is the second teen to win a full-ride college scholarship in the state's Vax-a-Million lottery program. [The Ohio Channel]

Updated: 2:22 p.m., Thursday, June 3, 2021

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 aged 12 to 17 who entered the vaccine lottery. 

“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 a 2016 graduate of Shaker Heights High School who recently moved to Silverton, near Cincinnati. 

Toledo resident Jonathan Carlyle, 40, won the $1 million lottery this week. He said the sweepstakes was the extra motivation he needed to go get the COVID-19 shot.

“I just kept putting it off, putting it off,” he said. “I knew I needed to get it and wanted to get it. And when y’all announced the Vax-A-Million, as soon as I heard that I said, ‘Yes. I've got to go do this now.’”

Carlyle, a new father with a 5-month-old son, plans to use his winnings to buy a house.

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 decided to get vaccinated, in part, because she previously had COVID-19, she said.

“I feel like it was the most sick I’ve ever been,” Vincent said. “It was like, if I can somehow guarantee that I’ll never feel this way again, or 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 in the 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.” 

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 aged 12 to 17 who have received one dose can still enter for the full-ride scholarship incentive.

The weekly Vax-a-Million drawings will continue through June 21. Ohioans can register online or by phone at 1-833-427-5634. Those who have already registered do not have to sign up again, according to state officials.

The lottery is open to permanent Ohio residents who have received either the one-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine or the first dose of the two-shot Pfizer or Moderna vaccinations.

About 56 percent of Ohio adults have received at least one dose of the vaccine as of Thursday, DeWine said, though the rate of Ohioans getting the COVID-19 vaccine are on the downswing again after an initial bump thanks to the lottery. 

“Our first concern, candidly, was to stop the bleeding, and by that I mean stop it from going down,” DeWine said. “So, righting the ship in and of itself was an accomplishment.” And state health officials expected big dips in vaccination rates around holiday weekends, he said. 

“Clearly it's not going up as fast as it was,” DeWine said Thursday. “Are we leveled off or where are we? We're not going to know for a few days. 

The state is doing its part to meet President Joe Biden’s national goal of reaching 70 percent of adults vaccinated by the Fourth of July holiday, DeWine said. To get there, he said more vaccinations in the younger age groups are especially needed.

“When we’re looking at how we get to slowing this down even more and get to bigger numbers, it’s the younger people, basically under 50. That’s where we have the biggest room to grow,” DeWine said. 

More vaccine incentives from Ohio businesses are in the works, the governor said, alluding to a possible Ohio-specific giveaway. 

“We hope to be able to give you some information about that in the future,” he said. “Something that they might offer, an Ohio product that might be offered. So, kind of excited about that.” 

Across the state on Thursday, four counties – Monroe, Harrison, Mahoning and Lawrence – were still reporting more than 100 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents, which indicates high incidence, DeWine said. Half of Ohio’s 88 counties are reporting under 50 cases per 100,000, he said.

Cuyahoga County's infection rate has dropped to about 83 cases per 100,000, according to the Ohio Department of Health. 

Statewide, Ohio is reporting 58.3 cases per 100,000 residents. The governor had previously set 50 per 100,000 as the benchmark needed to lift all pandemic health orders, which instead ended Wednesday

Statehouse News Bureau’s Andy Chow and ideastream’s Glenn Forbes contributed to this report

Anna Huntsman covers Akron, Canton and surrounding communities for Ideastream Public Media.