Chelsea High incoming sophomore Daniela Maldonado suddenly no longer needs to worry about paying for college.
That’s a lot to say for a young lady who says she comes from a low-income family and, before July 29, probably would have had to make hard choices when it came to choosing whether or not to go to college in the future.
What changed for her last Thursday, July 29, was that she was the inaugural winner of the state’s VaxMillions College Scholarship giveaway – winning a $300,000 scholarship towards college via a lottery drawing that was announced by Gov. Charlie Baker.
“I feel really happy for getting this opportunity,” Maldonado, 15, said at the Thursday press conference. “We are a low-income family so it was going to be hard for me to continue my education. I want to say thank you to everyone that made this opportunity possible because now I’m able to achieve goals that I’ve wanted, but wouldn’t have been able to do if I hadn’t had this scholarship.”
When she found out she had won, she said she didn’t believe it.
“I thought it was a scam at first,” she said. “I was expecting an e-mail if it was true. So, I got the e-mail and my mom called me and said that I won. I couldn’t believe it. I’m interested in Boston University or UMass. My interests are history. I really like to learn about history, especially from other countries. I also really like math.”
Maldonado was vaccinated in Chelsea in May, when she became eligible to get the shot. Because she was fully vaccinated by the entry deadline for VaxMillions, she was able to enter her name in the contest. And lucky for her, she won and secured her educational future long before even graduating from high school.
As part of the giveaway sponsored by the state and the Massachusetts State Lottery, fully vaccinated residents ages 18 and older are eligible to enter to win one of five, $1 million cash prizes. Residents between 12-17 years of age who are fully vaccinated may enter for the chance to win one of five $300,000 scholarship grants.
“Congratulations to…Daniela Maldonado on winning the first-round drawing for the VaxMillions Giveaway,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Since we launched VaxMillions, over 2.3 million residents have signed up and hundreds of thousands of residents have gotten vaccinated, building on Massachusetts’ nation-leading success in protecting our residents. Massachusetts continues to out-perform virtually every state on vaccinations, and we look forward to the remaining drawings for the VaxMillions campaign as another way to encourage more residents to get vaccinated, in addition to innovative approaches like pop-up clinics and in-home vaccinations.”
Said State Treasurer Deb Goldberg, “Today’s winners are a great reminder of why it’s so important to get vaccinated. They won, but we all win too. And remember – they got a shot because they got the shots. So get the vax now and you could join us soon.”
The next registration deadline is today, Aug. 5, with the drawing being on Aug. 9 and the winners announced on Aug. 12. There is also a registration deadline of Aug. 12 and the final one on Aug. 19.
Residents must be fully vaccinated before registering, but if they are not vaccinated by the registration date for a certain drawing, they will still have the opportunity to complete vaccination and register for subsequent drawings. Residents will only have to enter once to qualify for all drawings occurring after the date of their registration.
Eligible residents are able to enter the giveaway at VaxMillionsGiveaway.com. For residents who do not have access to the internet or require assistance, a call center can be reached by calling 2-1-1 during the below hours:
•Monday-Thursday: 8:30 AM-6:00 PM
•Friday: 8:30 AM-5:00 PM
•Saturday-Sunday: 9:00 AM-2:00 PM
Live call center workers are available in English and Spanish, and 100 additional languages are available through translators.