Mason Phipps, Winona, will receive free tuition for a year for taking the COVID-19 vaccine.
Phipps was the grand prize winner in Missouri State University-West Plains’ (MSU-WP) student vaccine incentive program. The estimated value of the prize is $4,560.
The ceremonial check presentation took place Monday, Oct. 4, during one of Phipps’ classes on campus. The award caught Phipps completely by surprise.
“It’s insane! I was completely blindsided,” he said of his reaction to the news. “I never win anything, so when I entered, I wasn’t really expecting much.”
Phipps said he took the vaccine because he has family members who are immunocompromised and he wanted to keep them safe.
Other prize winners announced
Free tuition was one of many prizes given away as part the effort to encourage students to take the vaccine to help the campus community stay safe and healthy.
Three students received Dell Insperion laptop computers. They are:
- Hannah Brindley, Mountain Home, Arkansas
- Wyatt Reid, West Plains
- Erica Miller, Willow Springs
Reid, a student in the Associate of Science in Nursing program, said receiving the laptop was a blessing for him.
“I had been using my wife’s laptop computer, so I was in need of one,” he said. “I’m taking a mental health course online, and I have to have a computer to access the majority of that workload.”
He also said he took the vaccine “because it was the right thing to do for my community. We’re starting to see the effects of the vaccine in the health care field. We’ve seen the importance of vaccines and doing the right thing.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity to participate in the student vaccine incentive program,” he added. “It’s definitely a cool thing that the college is doing.”
Three students also received $1,000 each to go toward tuition or room and board. They are:
- Victoria Rook, Fair Grove
- Morgan Brill, West Plains
- Jacob Simpson, West Plains
Prizes awarded earlier this semester
Several other prizes valued between $100 and $500 also were given away as part of the incentive program. Those winners were:
- Felicia Roach, Springfield, Roku streaming device
- Logan Jones, Mansfield, Grizzly backpack loaded with school supplies
- Angelina Kelly, Houston, $200 Grizzly Gear shopping spree at Drago College Store
- Jayna Gunter, West Plains, Apple Airpods Pro
- Teresa Cook, Hartshorn, Nintendo Switch
- Elizabeth Turpin, Cabool, $500 Grizzly Gear shopping spree at Drago College Store
- Tessa Taylor, Cabool, $500 Grizzly Gear shopping spree at Drago College Store
“Congratulations to all of our winners!,” said MSU-WP Interim Chancellor Dennis Lancaster. “I’m so glad that doing this one thing that’s important for you, your family and friends, and for our campus resulted in this added benefit.”
University officials report that 178 students signed up for the incentive program. To be eligible for the grand prizes, which included the free year’s tuition, laptop computers and $1,000 cash prizes, students had to take at least one dose of the vaccines approved for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) by Sept. 26.
To be eligible for the other prizes, students had to have taken one dose of the approved vaccines by Aug. 26. The winners of those prizes were announced at the new student convocation on Aug. 27.
All incentive prizes were funded with private money given to the Missouri State University Foundation.
Do what you can to limit the spread
While the incentive program may be over, Lancaster said he hopes students who have yet to take the vaccine strongly consider doing so.
“Unfortunately, the coronavirus is going to be with us for some time, perhaps even for the rest of our lives,” Lancaster said. “The important thing is to do whatever we can to limit its spread and its impact on each of us and our community. Getting the vaccine is a very personal decision, but we hope our students will continue to take care of themselves as we face this challenge together.”