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New York Announces First Winners Of COVID Vaccination Scholarship Incentive

FARMINGDALE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- A few New Yorkers have learned the value of their COVID shots. The first winners of the state's vaccine incentive offering free college have been notified.

CBS2's Carolyn Gusoff spoke with the lucky winners of a full scholarship.

"I was like, 'It's worth a shot, you just never know,'" said Christina Low, whose daughter won.

Natalia Low's mother signed her up for New York's free college drawing. Then an email arrived.

"I literally had to do a double take because I thought it was actually spam," Natalia's mom said.

The Lindenhurst 9th grader won.

"Now I can actually settle in and focus a lot more on school, because I know that this is very big," Natalia said.

"As a single mom who works full-time, it's difficult," said Natalia's mom. "Financially, it's a burden off our backs, where we can breathe a little bit."


The prize is more than $100,000 in tuition, room, board and expenses at any SUNY or CUNY college. A free ride.

The "Get a Shot to Make Your Future" incentive is aimed at 12 to 17-year-old New Yorkers among those with the lowest vaccine rates.

But Natalia didn't need an incentive. She already got her first shot.

"I think that the vaccine is very important and it can help benefit you and others," she said.

12-year-old Reed Livoti of Mount Pleasant also won.

"I get to go to free college. It's free education," Reed said. "I was very excited to hear. My mom was crying downstairs."

They were tears of joy from the parents of triplets.

"Is this real? I had to read it like three times. I'm like, no, this is real!" said Vincent Livoti, Reed's father. "This is a step forward in getting back to things where they used to be, which is a good thing."


For the Low family, with mounting medical bills from both of Natalia's parents battling cancer, the prize, like the vaccine, brings peace of mind.

"It's amazing. It's an amazing opportunity for our family. It truly is," Christina Low said.

There's still time to enter. There will be three more drawings over the next three weeks.

In all, there will be 50 winners. Ten are announced each week.

The state says it's a chance to set an example and set yourself up for debt-free college.

Click here to learn more about New York's Vaccination Scholarship Incentive.

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