‘Strength in Immunity’ vaccination drawing winners announced

Student and faculty member win $2,500 in week 5 drawing; your chances to win continue

The University of Cincinnati has awarded its fifth round of prizes in the weekly ‘Strength in Immunity’ drawing.

To further encourage vaccination against COVID-19, the university is conducting weekly drawings for gift cards in varying amounts of $2,500 or $5,000. In all, the university will award nearly $50,000.

This week’s winners are:

  • Katherine DiGiandomenico, social work graduate student, College of Allied Health Sciences
  • Eli Awtrey, assistant professor of management, Carl H. Lindner College of Business
Woman holds sign indicating winning $2500

Katherine DiGiandomenico | Photo/Andrew Higley/UC Creative + Brand

Student Katherine DiGiandomenico was working at her internship when she learned the good news. “I couldn’t believe it,” she says. “I had to re-read the email a couple times.”

She plans on using the $2,500 toward next semester’s tuition.

DiGiandomenico says she got vaccinated to protect her family, friends and community. 

“I would encourage other students and anyone else to get vaccinated by doing their research using credible resources.”

Assistant Professor Eli Awtrey startled his wife by exclaiming in delight when he read he had won the $2,500 prize.

“We’ve discussed doing something fun as a family, perhaps going to Disneyland,” he says. “Because that’s what you do when you win, right?”

Awtrey relates the idea of getting vaccinated to his area of expertise in management.

“In my courses, I teach about using evidence to improve management skills, and the same is (obviously) true about medical choices,” he says. “Few things are guaranteed in life, but the evidence for the efficacy of the vaccine is overwhelmingly positive.”

He says he’s appreciative that UC is willing to put resources into encouraging and promoting vaccination.

“I am proud that we are an organization that can make difficult decisions by using data and evidence,” he says.

Currently enrolled students, faculty and staff who have received their COVID-19 vaccinations and voluntarily report those to the university are eligible to enter and win by submitting  snapshots of their vaccination card (front and back) via the COVID Check appLearn more.

Sept. 16: Strength in Immunity’ vaccination drawing week 4 winners announced

Week 4 winners:

  • Sabrina Saunders, third-year pharmacy student, James L. Winkle College of Pharmacy 
  • Terry Kunky, project manager, IT@UC
Masked student holds sign indicating winning $5,000

Sabrina Saunders | Photo/Andrew Higley/UC Creative + Brand

Student Sabrina Saunders was in her trauma/surgery elective class when she learned she won the $5,000 prize, which she plans to put toward tuition.

As a pharmacy student, getting vaccinated was an important decision for Saunders because it plays a large role in her future profession.

“I felt it was the right decision for myself to receive the vaccine and play my part in reducing the spread of the virus,” she says. “I encourage everyone to educate themselves using reliable sources on not only the vaccines, but the virus as well, to better understand the importance of being vaccinated.”

Masked woman holds sign indicating winning $2,500

Terry Kunky | Photo/Andrew Higley/UC Creative + Brand

Staff member Terry Kunky saw the words “vaccine card winner” flash on her computer screen while presenting during a meeting, confirming that she had received $2,500.

“I am very grateful,” she says, “and I never win anything, so I am especially excited!”

Kunky plans to use the funds for an upcoming vacation.

“It was great timing,” she says.

Like many others, Kunky says she got vaccinated to protect her family, friends and coworkers.

“The sooner that everyone is vaccinated, the sooner we can all get back to normal,” she says.

Sept. 10: Strength in Immunity’ vaccination drawing week 3 winners announced

Week 3 winners:

  • Kyla Geitner, first-year political science (pre-law) student, College of Arts and Sciences
  • Brittany Punches, assistant professor, College of Nursing, College of Medicine
Masked student holds sign indicating winning $2,500

Kyla Geitner | Photo/Andrew Higley/UC Creative + Brand

Student Kyla Geitner was studying in the library with friends when she learned she was the latest winner.

“When I read the email, I screamed,” she says, “which isn’t always the best thing in a library, but I was so excited. I couldn’t believe it.”

Geitner says she got vaccinated for her grandmother: “She is honestly my best friend, and her safety was a huge concern during quarantine. So I made sure I was vaccinated the second I could because not being able to see her often was heartbreaking.

“I’m so grateful that (the vaccine) was offered so early to young people like me.”

Masked woman holds sign indicating winning $2,500

Brittany Punches | Photo/Andrew Higley/UC Creative + Brand

Faculty member Brittany Punches, who has been with UC as either a student or professor since 2003, was equally excited to receive the news. She plans to use the money to surprise her children with a trip to Disney World over the winter break.

“My kids are 7, 6, and 4 and don’t know we are going yet!”

Punches sees vaccination as a way to return to normalcy.

“I encourage everyone to choose to vaccinate so we can protect the vulnerable while getting back to normal faster.”

Sept. 2: Strength in Immunity’ vaccination drawing week 2 winners announced

Week 2 winners:

  • Ashley Rickens, second-year psychology student, College of Arts and Sciences
  • Amanda Buncher, adjunct instructor and special education field-placement supervisor, College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services
Student in mask holds sign indicating $2500 winner

Ashley Rickens | Photo/Andrew Higley/UC Creative + Brand

Student Ashley Rickens was doing homework in a coffee shop with friends when she received the news that she won the week’s $2,500 drawing for students.

Rickens says she’s going to put half the money aside for spring tuition and use the rest on gas, groceries and a special gift for her cat, Pumpkin.

She encourages fellow Bearcats to get vaccinated for their friends and family as well as themselves. 

“Keeping each other safe is important, and these vaccines have the power to do that,” she says.

Faculty member Amanda Buncher was putting her kids to bed when she got the news of what she calls an “unexpected gift.”

Woman holds sign indicating winning $2500

Amanda Buncher | Photo/Andrew Higley/UC Creative + Brand

“My husband had to switch careers last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and he is now the owner and operator of his own business," she explains. “There are many things that my family could do with this sum of money while his business is getting off the ground.”

Vaccination against COVID-19 hits home for Buncher because she had many family members affected by the virus.

“Being part of a community means considering the needs of others so that all can live safely together,” she says.

Aug. 26: First ‘Strength in Immunity’ vaccination drawing winners announced

Week 1 winners:

  • Max Gardner, second-year health sciences student, College of Allied Health Sciences
  • Kelly Rawe, assistant director of advising, CECH
  • Christina Tan, lecturer, College-Conservatory of Music
Student poses with sign indicating winning $2500

Max Gardner | Photo/Andrew Higley/UC Creative + Brand

Student Max Gardner was working out at the Campus Rec Center when he learned the surprising news that he was the first winner of the drawing. He hopes to use some of the money to take his friends out to dinner.

Gardner says getting vaccinated was important to him because he wanted to make his loved ones feel safe.

“I did it just to be responsible and look out for other people,” he explains. “If we want to stop the spread of COVID-19, getting vaccinated is the best way to do that.”

Woman holds sign indicating winning $2500

Kelly Rawe | Photo/Andrew Higley/UC Creative + Brand

Adviser Kelly Rawe is currently on parental leave after welcoming a new baby. She got the vaccine while pregnant so her baby would be born with antibodies.

“I strongly encourage people to think of others — especially children, or people who are immunocompromised — when making their decision about getting the vaccine,” Rawe says.

Despite taking so many precautions, her 3-year-old recently tested positive for COVID-19, sending Rawe and her newborn into quarantine. She learned about winning the drawing on her last day of isolation.

“After the stress of a COVID-19 case in my family, this was really a bright spot in the past couple of weeks.”

Woman holds sign indicating winning $2500

Christina Tan | Photo/Andrew Higley/UC Creative + Brand

Faculty member Christina Tan received the news between classes in CCM, calling the prize money a “blessing.”

For her, vaccines represent an opportunity to safely engage with the community.

“Getting the vaccine is one expression of ‘loving our neighbors,’” she says.


Featured image at top: Andrew Higley/UC Creative + Brand

Don't miss your chance to win

Enter to win by submitting  a photo of your vaccination card (front and back) via the COVID Check app.

Learn more about "Strength in Immunity."