Two students picked for vaccine incentive grand prize 

Two students who each work and juggle a full course load will have an easier time of things financial next semester, thanks to winning the vaccine incentive grand prize of $8,500 each — the equivalent of a semester’s worth of tuition, fees, meals, and housing. 

Their names were picked randomly from all those who entered the incentive contest earlier this fall; all students who entered received a $500 credit toward next semester’s tuition and fees, or this semester if they’re graduating in December.  

Being chosen the grand prize winners was a great surprise for Roger Morton, a freshman from Corpus Christi, Texas, majoring in environmental safety management and Sarah Streeter, a junior from Wichita, Kansas, majoring in psychology, as they wrap up their semester. 

But both of them say they got the vaccine because it was the right thing to do, and for one of them, it was especially personal. 

“Last year at this time, my mom was in the hospital for COVID and it wasn’t looking good at all,” Streeter said. “She has an autoimmune disease and we’re not sure how she pulled through.” 

“When finals started, I couldn’t even talk to her, and it was pretty stressful. I’m grateful she made it, and it was a no-brainer to get vaccinated because it helps people like her and others,” she said. 

Streeter’s brother, Jacob, who is majoring in business, graduates Friday and also is vaccinated. 

Her goal when she graduates is to stay and get a master’s degree with an eye toward landing a career helping veterans and their families with issues like PTSD and homelessness. She currently works on campus at the Gorilla Bookstore and off campus as a waitress at Chili’s, and said the prize money will help alleviate a lot of stress so that she can more fully focus on school and night classes she’ll need to take. 

Morton's career will one day involve ensuring safety and preventing accidents in work environments — everything from risk management for insurance companies, to proper PPE wear by employees on large-scale sorting lines, to oil and gas spills. 

Just as he moved to Pittsburg to start school in August, the COVID-19 cases in his hometown began rising, and a few moms of his sister’s classmates died. 

“I got my first vaccine before school started,” he said, “so I was ready.” 

Corpus Christi is a 12-hour drive, and he didn’t want to risk getting COVID-19 and having to make a trip of that distance to return home to isolate. 

In a twist of fate, the topic he drew randomly for an ESM class presentation was COVID-19 in the workplace, prompting a great deal of research. 

What he wasn’t prepared for was getting a call about winning the grand prize. 

“I work as a Jimmy John’s driver, and I think I was really tired and half asleep that morning when they called to tell me, so I didn’t really react,” he said. “Now that it’s sunk in, it’s amazing to think about. I am here on loans and financial aid, but I work all summer to save up for the school year. With this money covering my spring semester, I can bank everything I earn for next fall semester and be that much further ahead. I really appreciate it.” 


On Nov. 19, the FDA opened COVID-19 booster shots to all adults. Anyone 18 years or older can choose either a Pfizer or Moderna booster six months after their last dose. For those who received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the wait time is two months. 

Vaccines and boosters are available at the Crawford County Health Department, Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas, area pharmacies, and the Bryant Student Health Center. Contact the agency directly for hours and appointment information.