DC 9th grader gets vaccine, wins $25K college scholarship

A ninth grader at D.C.’s first computer science-focused middle school hugged her tearful mother, before being awarded a $25,000 college scholarship, through the Take the Shot DC giveaway.

“I’m very excited,” said Wendy Lewis, moments after her daughter Travanna had been presented with the first of eight scholarships that will be provided throughout the giveaway. All D.C. children ages 12-17 who receive the COVID-19 vaccine are entered into the random drawing.

The scholarship was awarded at Digital Pioneers Academy, a school that aims to provide students from Ward 7 and Ward 8 in Southeast D.C. with the education to be innovators in the digital economy.

“I actually was unaware of the scholarship,” said Lewis, who said her daughter wants to go to law school to become an attorney. “I’m very fortunate to have received this opportunity for her — I’m very proud of her.”

Currently, approximately 58% of D.C. residents who are 12-15 years old have at least one dose of the vaccine, slightly more than the percent of 16- and 17-year-olds.

Lewis said her daughter’s preexisting medical condition played a large role in the decision to be vaccinated.

“Because she does have sickle cell [anemia], her doctor was adamant about her getting it,” Lewis said. “Other sickle cell patients who got COVID had to be intubated, with the most severe symptoms, and I didn’t want that for her.”

Before deciding to have her daughter vaccinated, Lewis had some worries about side effects: “I was concerned because I’d heard of the symptoms from the second shot,” but said Travanna had no discomfort.

While Mayor Muriel Bowser, doctors, and educators have stressed the importance of children returning to the classroom, Lewis had doubts.

“She wanted to do in-person after being virtual,” her mother admitted. “I still have my concerns, but this minimizes it a lot.”

Asked if her daughter feels relieved to be vaccinated, her mother said yes.

“Even though we still take the precautions, I believe it sets her more at peace,” she said. “But it definitely sets me more at peace.”

More Coronavirus News

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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