10 Purdue students win Old Golden Ticket – equivalent to a year’s in-state tuition – by choosing to get COVID-19 vaccination

Quentin Betts, an incoming freshman from Indianapolis, was the first Old Golden Ticket winner. A graduate of the Purdue University Polytechnic High School, Betts plans to study finance when he begins his Boilermaker experience this fall. Betts was especially thankful for how the $9,992 also would benefit his family and what his mother’s reaction to winning would be: “She did a lot of things for me. She was probably the only reason I came to college.” (Purdue University photo/Rebecca McElhoe)

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – A Willy Wonka-inspired COVID-19 vaccination promotion is putting nearly $10,000 into the hands of 10 incoming and returning Purdue University students ahead of the start of the fall semester. 

From Indiana as well as Illinois, Ohio, Texas, England and South Korea, the 10 randomly selected vaccinated students who struck gold represent a notable cross-section of Purdue’s academic community including pharmacy, biology, engineering, computer science, statistics and finance. 

The students received the winning news via surprise Zoom calls or the specially designed Old Golden Tickets personally delivered last week by the Boilermaker Special or Purdue Pete and a host of Protect Purdue representatives. For several, their delighted parents, family members and significant others were on hand in helping orchestrate the surprise giveaway celebration. 

And, of course, lots of Purdue-branded old gold and black confetti and balloons.

“I think it’s very important to get vaccinated,” said Old Golden Ticket winner Jeremiah Monteiro, a sophomore from Naperville, Illinois, studying industrial engineering. “You’re not only protecting yourself from the virus, you’re also protecting your community. So, if more people decide to get vaccinated, that’s a big way to protect ourselves, too.”

The additional Old Golden Ticket student winners:

  • Quentin Betts, freshman, finance, Indianapolis.
  • Isabella Paglione, freshman, biology, Fort Wayne, Indiana.
  • Hunter Skelton, junior, pharmacy, West Lafayette, Indiana.
  • Emily Harvath, senior, pharmacy, Greentown, Indiana. 
  • Min Kyung Lee, graduate school, statistics/industrial engineering, Suwon, South Korea.
  • Alec Vucsko, senior, mechanical engineering, New Lenox, Illinois.
  • Surya Salem, sophomore, computer science, Plano, Texas.
  • Kaleigh Cooke, freshman, engineering, Maineville, Ohio.
  • Nandini Krishna, junior, electrical and computer engineering, Crowborough, England.

Each Old Golden Ticket winner is receiving $9,992, or the current equivalent of a year of Purdue in-state tuition, which has been frozen at 2012-13 rates through at least the 2022-23 academic year. To preserve the element of surprise, the 10 students were told they were simply being interviewed for an upcoming edition of the “This Is Purdue” podcast — not that they also were Old Golden Ticket winners. The Old Golden Ticket podcast episode begins airing later this week.

“On behalf of the entire Purdue community, we want to say congratulations to these 10 students and their families, and to thank all our students who entered by getting the COVID-19 vaccination, uploading proof and doing their part to Protect Purdue,” said R. Ethan Braden, senior vice president of marketing and communications and a member of the Protect Purdue Implementation Team. 

Harvath and several of the returning students commended the Protect Purdue efforts of the past 18 months to encourage all students, faculty and staff to band together to make in-person learning possible. 

“Winning $9,992 will be incredible to help pay for my Purdue studies. Getting the COVID-19 vaccine can protect the people you love, protect the people around you and help our lives get back to normal,” she said. “You can imagine, as a pharmacy student, vaccine advocacy is something that I’m incredibly passionate about. So, for all of this, it’s been really important to me and I’ve been glad that Purdue has been advocating for it.”

Krishna was speechless for what the $9,992 incentive for getting the vaccine would mean as a senior-year Boilermaker. “It’s really exciting. This money will pay for a lot of my tuition, obviously. It’s hard to put into words how beneficial financially this will be,” she said.

The Protect Purdue-led drawing was open to all incoming and returning undergraduate, graduate and professional students – domestic and international – who were registered for the fall semester and verified with formal documentation by July 15 that they been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Accounting firm BKD helped facilitate the drawing process by providing Purdue officials a file of randomly generated numbers via secured document. Using a final, corresponding list of all student entrants, students were matched and validated for eligibility, rendering them the 10 Old Golden Ticket winners.

Purdue is strongly encouraging all students and employees get the COVID-19 vaccine if they can for what is expected to be another record year of enrollment at the West Lafayette campus when the semester begins Aug. 23. 

Although it’s too late to participate in the Old Golden Ticket giveaway, there’s still time for Purdue students to get the COVID-19 vaccine. 

The deadline is Aug. 13 for students to submit their vaccine verification documentation to be excused from routine surveillance testing which begins Aug. 23 and could be as frequent as weekly. Vaccinated students will also avoid potentially disrupting their studies with a 14-day quarantine should they experience a high-risk exposure to someone with the coronavirus. 

For employees at Purdue’s West Lafayette campus, a pair of season tickets to Boilermaker football for the 2021 season are among the 50 prizes for those who choose to get vaccinated against COVID-19 can win this August. 

To be eligible, employees must successfully submit valid proof of vaccination to the university, also by the Aug. 13 deadline. From the pool of employees who document their choice to be vaccinated, 50 will be randomly selected. Winners will be validated and announced the week of Aug. 23. Full details can be viewed online.

Key to upholding tenets of the Protect Purdue Pledge for students and employees is choosing to get vaccinated and submitting valid proof, or taking part in routine surveillance testing. More detailed guidelines for fall 2021 for students and for faculty and staff are available at the Protect Purdue website.

About Purdue University

Purdue University is a top public research institution developing practical solutions to today’s toughest challenges. Ranked the No. 5 Most Innovative University in the United States by U.S. News & World Report, Purdue delivers world-changing research and out-of-this-world discovery. Committed to hands-on and online, real-world learning, Purdue offers a transformative education to all. Committed to affordability and accessibility, Purdue has frozen tuition and most fees at 2012-13 levels, enabling more students than ever to graduate debt-free. See how Purdue never stops in the persistent pursuit of the next giant leap at https://purdue.edu/.

Media contact: Tim Doty, doty2@purdue.edu