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Teens from Penfield, Victor win educations at state colleges in vaccination incentive

Penfield High School student Chase French won a four-year incentive from New York for tuition and room and board at a state university.

A Penfield teen is one of the winners of a new COVID-19 vaccination incentive from the state.

Chase French will get full reimbursement on tuition and room and board at a state university.

The 17-year-old's mom told him to watch Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s announcement on Wednesday about the first 10 winners in the state raffle, the "Get A Shot to Make Your Future" incentive.

It provides tuition and room and board to a SUNY or CUNY school for four years to youths ages 12 to 17 who get their COVID-19 shots.

“Yeah, my mom wanted me to rush home and watch it and I was a little shocked, I really didn’t know what to expect, but I’m really happy with what came out,” French said.

The Penfield High School junior says he and his friends are still trying to absorb it all.

“They’re pretty shocked, too. I was talking to my other friend, we were just both shocked. I’m feeling a little overwhelmed, it’s crazy, it all came so fast,” French said.

Chase’s mom, Cristy French, was pretty overwhelmed too -- but thrilled, since Chase’s sister is graduating high school now and headed to college.

“It will lighten the burden on the kids," she said. "They won’t have to split their energies between their studies and trying to bust their butts to work to pay for everything and they can really focus on all the learning that they need to do and the growing that they need to do at college.”

Cristy French said that both her son and teenage daughter got their COVID-19 vaccinations in April as soon as they were eligible.

Chase French hasn’t decided on a college yet -- he’s got some time to do that -- but says in terms of potential careers, he has an interest in architecture. 

Victor student Jack Lucchesi was the other local winner announced this week. Altogether, 50 of the state scholarships will be given out over the next several weeks.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.