First recipients of Western's vaccination incentive scholarships announced

Contact: Erin Flynn

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Western Michigan University students are taking their shot at scoring scholarships and keeping the community safe in the process. The University has drawn the first round of scholarship recipients in its COVID-19 Vaccination Incentive Program.

Alexis Jenkins, a senior from Livonia, Michigan, won a $10,000 scholarship.

"Winning a scholarship takes a huge amount of weight off my shoulders! I can now spend my senior year focusing on school, friends, and work while not having financial stressors hanging over my head," says Jenkins, who is studying psychology and criminal justice at Western.

The incentive program was created to both encourage students to get vaccinated against COVID-19—a crucial tool in keeping the virus from spreading on campus—and show gratitude to those students taking steps to protect the University community.

Alexis Jenkins won a $10,000 scholarship through the COVID-19 Vaccination Incentive Program.

August scholarship winners include:

  • Chloe Bruen - $10,000
  • Alexis Jenkins - $10,000
  • Nathan Nothelle - $10,000
  • Madeline Blum - $2,500
  • Blake Bosma - $2,500
  • Sai Teja Myla - $2,500
  • Halle Vandeusen - $2,500
  • Olivia Zueski - $2,500
  • Justin Bald - $1,000
  • Sydney Davidson - $1,000
  • Jessica Dotson - $1,000
  • Noah Gappy - $1,000
  • Kara Hepler - $1,000
  • Mia Mendez - $1,000
  • Michael Angelo Saroge - $1,000
  • Jennifer Serra - $1,000
  • Ethan Stoltz - $1,000
  • ET Townsend - $1,000

"With the help of this scholarship to pay for my tuition, I will be able to save more money for my study abroad trip in the spring," says Kara Hepler, a senior from Warsaw, Indiana, who won a $1,000 scholarship. As a Japanese major, her previous plans to study abroad in Japan have been canceled because of COVID-19. "The more people who get vaccinated, the higher my chances are to study abroad. We can protect each other by getting vaccinated, and maybe our school life can start returning to normal if we all do."

A total of 60 scholarships will be awarded to fully vaccinated students who register their status with the University through December, with awards ranging from $1,000 to $10,000.

"Watching the numbers of fully vaccinated faculty, staff and students on this campus grow is inspiring," says Dr. Gayle Ruggiero, medical director at Sindecuse Health Center. "Each person plays an important role in the University's success, and the compassion exhibited with this selfless act makes this a safer world for us all to live in. Thank you all for doing your part!"

Students, faculty and staff who have not yet been vaccinated against COVID-19 can sign up for an appointment at Sindecuse by calling (269) 387-3287. Immunizations are also available at pharmacies and through county health departments throughout the country. Michigan's COVID-19 response website features a portal to county health departments throughout the state that also offer vaccinations. More information and resources, as well as answers to frequently asked questions, are available on Western's COVID-19 Vaccinations webpage.

There are still 42 scholarships to award. All students who complete the vaccination registration and verification process through Sindecuse's secure patient portal will be entered into upcoming vaccination incentive scholarship drawings, which are scheduled for Sept. 6, Oct. 6, Nov. 6 and Dec. 6. Documentation must be uploaded by 8 a.m. on the first day of the month to be eligible for that month's drawing. All students, faculty and staff also receive a $5 Starbucks digital gift card just for registering their vaccination.

"Western's mission is 'So that all may learn,' and we're so pleased to be able to offer financial incentives to help students pursue their educational goals and contribute to the well-being of themselves and their University community," says Dr. Jennifer Bott, provost and vice president for academic affairs. "The pandemic has been challenging for all of us, and it's going to take all of us working together to turn the corner on COVID-19."

Jenkins says she got vaccinated to contribute getting back to "normal life," adding, "I think other Broncos should get vaccinated to ensure the safety of others and do everything we can to prevent another lockdown!"

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