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Purdue's Old Golden Ticket Vaccination Drawing: Winners' Reactions

This is a podcast episode titled, Purdue's Old Golden Ticket Vaccination Drawing: Winners' Reactions. The summary for this episode is: <p>In this special edition of This Is Purdue, we’re featuring our journey to find and award the 10 Boilermakers who entered the Old Golden Ticket&nbsp;Vaccination&nbsp;Drawing.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p><br></p><p>Students&nbsp;who&nbsp;submitted&nbsp;valid proof that they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by July 15&nbsp;were&nbsp;randomly selected&nbsp;to win the&nbsp;‘Golden Ticket’&nbsp;- $9,992&nbsp;-&nbsp;the equivalent of a year’s undergraduate tuition cost for an in-state Boilermaker since 2013.&nbsp;</p><p><br></p><p>Listen in as the Purdue University Marketing and Communications team&nbsp;highlights&nbsp;the behind-the-scenes details of pulling off these ultimate surprises from&nbsp;finding students on campus to&nbsp;crossing state lines to&nbsp;getting the parents in on the celebration. You don’t want to miss this episode!&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p><br></p>

Kate Young: Hi, I'm Kate Young and you're listening to, This is Purdue, the official podcast for Purdue University. As a Purdue alum and Indiana native, I know firsthand, about the family of students and professors who are in it together, persistently pursuing and relentlessly rethinking, who are the next game changers difference- makers ceiling breakers, innovators? Who are these Boilermakers. Join me as we feature students, faculty, and alumni, taking small steps toward their giant leaps and inspiring others to do the same.

Speaker 2: Ready to roll.

Kate Young: My job is quite cool. I'm fully aware of this. I've interviewed Olympic athletes, Mars scientists and of course we have a few more Purdue icons being featured on This is Purdue, in the coming months. But this project, the work that went into creating this episode, well, this is one I'll never forget. I guess I should go back to the beginning though. In May, Purdue University came up with a creative plan to encourage students to get vaccinated, as part of the Protect Purdue Initiative, the Old Golden Ticket Vaccination Drawing. The prize, the golden ticket,$ 9, 992, the equivalent of a year's undergraduate tuition cost, for an in- state Boilermaker, since 2013. And 10 lucky Boilermakers who submitted valid proof that they were fully vaccinated against COVID- 19, by July 15th, would win that golden ticket. The drawing was open to current and admitted students enrolled for the fall 2021 semester, on the West Lafayette campus. All undergraduate, graduate and professional degree seeking students, regardless of residency were eligible to enter and win. And so here we are. This episode highlights the behind the scenes details of the Purdue marketing and communications team pulling off these ultimate surprises, from finding students on campus, to crossing state lines, to getting families in on the celebration.

Speaker 3: Really? Wow! What? I got a golden ticket!

Speaker 4: Are you serious?

Kate Young: Gathering the 10 winners and figuring out how we would talk to them without spoiling this massive surprise was complex to say the least. The other issue, we had less than a week to pull this off. So we got to work immediately. We'll start at the beginning. Our first winner was actually fairly easy to track down. He happened to be part of Purdue's Summer Start, a five week summer module, designed to jumpstart students' college careers. He also picked up on my very first phone call. This was huge. So what was our ruse? I simply asked the student if he was interested in being interviewed on the This is Purdue Podcast and he said sure. We organized a surprise on a Friday at the Engineering Fountain and it was just another casual 90 degree humid summer day in Indiana. I met Quintin Bets, of Indianapolis, Indiana, outside of his math class and we walked together to the fountain. Before he knew it, he was greeted with a crowd of people holding balloons, the Purdue Fight Song, glaring from the Boilermaker's special and Purdue Pete holding an Old Golden Ticket. How are you feeling right now?

Quintin Bet: Full of shock, I guess.

Speaker 6: Yeah?

Quintin Bet: Yeah.

Kate Young: So you were surprised?

Quintin Bet: Yeah.

Kate Young: Quintin is heading into his freshman year at Purdue and is studying finance. He also attended Purdue Polytechnic High School in Indianapolis. Commonly referred to as PPHS, this high school was created to build new K through 12 pathways that lead to Purdue, especially for Indiana students who are underserved by traditional high schools and underrepresented in higher education. If you haven't checked out our PPHS episode with Principal Shatoya Ward, please go back and listen to that after you're done with this episode. Quintin tells us about his time at PPHS.

Quintin Bet: Ultimately, I'm glad I went there. I did a lot of things that put me out of my comfort zone. Made me a better person. I did football, all types of sports. Ultimately led me to going to Purdue and I love this school. I spent a summer here before and that's kind of like convinced me to go to college. I thought about enlisting before coming here, but they introduced me to ROTC here and that's kind of what made me want to come here.

Kate Young: So$ 9, 992, that's a full year of tuition, in- state. What are you thinking right now?

Quintin Bet: God is good. Definitely. Yeah. That's probably what I'm thinking. I didn't think I was going to win, honestly. I just kind of entered. Kind of magic tricked me. I would have inaudible something better.

Kate Young: Quintin also touches on what this tuition money would mean to his mom.

Quintin Bet: She might cry. She did a lot of things for me, going to college. She's probably the only reason I really came to college, to be honest with you. She applied for FAFSA and stuff like that for me. She's been a really good influence on me. Yeah.

Kate Young: After FaceTiming his mom during a Boilermaker special ride, he teased her. See, aren't you glad I didn't go to IU? Our next stop, fort Wayne, Indiana, about two hours northeast of campus. This was our first time being able to surprise a student at their house and this one was fun because this winner's parents were in on the surprise. We rang the doorbell at Isabella [Peglioni's 00:05:46] house. Hi.

Isabella Peglioni: Hi.

Kate Young: Are you Isabella?

Isabella Peglioni: I am.

Kate Young: Awesome. Nice to meet you. Do you mind stepping out here. Mom and dad can come out too. Thanks for agreeing to do this in person.

Isabella Peglioni: Of course.

Kate Young: We actually have a special surprise for you. Do you know the Old Golden Ticket Vaccine Drawing?

Isabella Peglioni: I do.

Kate Young: You won!

Mark Peglioni: Oh my God!

Isabella Peglioni: Really?

Kate Young: Yes. I'm sorry that we kind of tricked you. You will be on the podcast. Tell us how you're feeling.

Isabella Peglioni: This is insane. I never thought that I would win, but that's awesome.

Kate Young: After the shock wore off a bit, Isabella an incoming freshman, majoring in biology at Purdue, discussed the importance of the Protect Purdue Initiative. Why was it important to you to get vaccinated?

Isabella Peglioni: I thought was super important. Just the pandemic hit us a lot. My dad, he was more high risk so I had to always be super careful. So when the vaccine became available, I wanted to get it as soon as possible, to keep everyone in my family protected.

Kate Young: And why do you think it's important for Boilermakers overall to get vaccinated and keep everyone healthy around us?

Isabella Peglioni: Just to keep the campus safe. I don't want COVID to spread through and ruin our in- person classes again.

Kate Young: So$ 9, 992 in- state tuition for a full year.

Isabella Peglioni: Oh my goodness.

Kate Young: How does that sound to you?

Isabella Peglioni: It's crazy because I was always worried about student loans and stuff, so just having one year covered is insane to me. That is awesome.

Kate Young: This was also our first reveal that involved the winner getting showered with gold confetti. That was our senior brand manager, Bailey's idea, after we bought some black and gold balloons, that deflated way too quickly, after our first reveal.

Bailey: I think that was amazing. We were nervous it wasn't going to go well. crosstalk.

Kate Young: I spoke with Isabella's dad, Mark, to arrange the surprise and he couldn't help but gush about his daughter. They were so proud of her for choosing to go to Purdue." She can do anything," he said. And when it came to Isabella getting the vaccine to keep others safe, he was proud about that too.

Mark Peglioni: Yeah. I think this is awesome that Purdue is doing this. Anything that can keep students and faculty safe, we're all for and I'm really proud of Isabella for stepping up and taking that step.

Kate Young: A few days later, Mark texted us. Thanks again for doing what you do and making that day one that we'll always remember. Okay. Two down eight to go. Our next winner happened to be a student who grew up in West Lafayette. Our crew surprised her at her house and I pretended that I had a special package that I needed help with. We have a special surprise.

Hunter Skelton: Are you serious?

Kate Young: You have won the Old Golden Ticket.

Hunter Skelton: Are you serious?

Kate Young: I'm serious.

Hunter Skelton: Oh my God! Thank you so much!

Kate Young: You are a winner! Are you surprised?

Hunter Skelton: Yeah.

Kate Young: What did your mom and dad tell you we've been conspiring about?

Hunter Skelton: Oh really, I haven't heard anything about it until yesterday. They were like,"You have a special delivery coming tomorrow. Make sure you look decent." I was like,"Okay." That's all I knew. I still just can't really believe it. To think of how many students are at Purdue, how many students got vaccinated and entered this and like, it's me. That's insane to me.

Kate Young: Hunter Skelton, a pharmacy major, who also plays the mellophone in Purdue's All- American Marching Band, is the oldest of five siblings and this full year of in- state tuition money will go a long way for her and her family.

Hunter Skelton: Yeah, it means a lot. I have four more years of school left and rates just went out because I'm in graduate school now. So this means so much to me and my family. I'm the oldest of five, so my parents got a lot coming and me too. It just means a lot for starting my future and getting to where I want to be.

Kate Young: After pulling off this surprise, we cruised around her neighborhood with her siblings in the Boilermaker special. Let's just say it wasn't a typical Tuesday morning, for anyone involved. Hunter sums up the Boilermaker community perfectly.

Hunter Skelton: I love Purdue. I'm a townie and my whole life was," I'm never going to go to Purdue." I got to get out of here. But then once I started searching, I was like,"It's just perfect. It's just everything I need."

Kate Young: What does the Purdue community mean to you? You're in band. You seem really active. You're in pharmacy. What does this community mean to you?

Hunter Skelton: It means a lot to me. When I say I'm a Boilermaker, that means a lot to me. It's a big part of who I am now and are the times I'm going to remember for the rest of my life. Being in band, this moment right now, pharmacy, just a lot of big moments that are impacting who I am every day and changing me, who I am, to be the pharmacist I hope to be someday. So it really means a lot to have this great community of people around me.

Kate Young: Straight from Hunter's house, in West Lafayette, we crossed the state line into Illinois with the Boilermaker special in tow. Our next stop, Naperville, Illinois. When I first called this student's dad, he was so thrilled to hear his son was chosen to be interviewed on the This is Purdue Podcast.

Mervin Montero: Hi Kate. Good afternoon. Thank you try to reach me. I'm Jeremiah's dad. This is with regards to the message that you left, that you want to talk to him about the podcast interview.

Kate Young: Hey, I was never really lying to anyone. This whole thing did turn into a podcast episode. We had a great chat and the interview was set up for a Tuesday afternoon at their home. This approach was done a bit differently though. I introduced myself and my crew and we started the podcast interview that the student and his dad were expecting. What did you think about the Protect Purdue Initiative? What did that mean to you, that you were able to go to classes in- person?

Jeremiah Montero: I had heard a lot about it because even though I'm an out- of- state student, it's very close by, so I would hear a lot about it in the news and I thought it was a really good concept to get kids to really take social distancing seriously and it stressed the importance of social distancing, is wearing a mask as well.

Kate Young: Did you get vaccinated this year?

Jeremiah Montero: Yes. I did choose to get vaccinated and I chose to do it mainly to protect myself from the virus and also protect my community from the virus and possible variants as well.

Kate Young: That's great to hear. Are you familiar with the Old Golden Ticket Vaccine Drawing?

Jeremiah Montero: Yeah. I am familiar with the ticket.

Kate Young: Do you know why we're here?

Jeremiah Montero: Did I happen to win one?

Kate Young: You won.

Jeremiah Montero: Oh, that's awesome. Thank you.

Kate Young: So we actually have another special surprise for you outside, so we're going to go on outside.

Jeremiah Montero: Sounds good. Thank you so much, guys!

Kate Young: Jeremiah Montero is a sophomore in industrial engineering at Purdue. He's also interning at Flexco in Downers Grove, Illinois, over the summer. During a cruise in a special around Jeremiah's neighborhood, we discussed what the Purdue community means to him.

Jeremiah Montero: It was great to be in- person and just get to meet a lot of different people from a lot of different backgrounds. There's a lot of in- state and international students as well, so it just felt like a good fit, getting to meet a lot of different people.

Kate Young: And what does this tuition money mean to you?

Jeremiah Montero: It means a lot. Obviously, out-of-state tuition's expensive, so this will definitely go a long way to help me for a year.

Kate Young: And why do you think it's important for Boilermakers to get vaccinated?

Jeremiah Montero: I think it's very important to get vaccinated because you're not protecting yourself from the virus, you're also protecting the community as well. So if more people who decide to get vaccinated, that becomes a big way to protecting ourselves from COVID.

Kate Young: The day we surprised Jeremiah, also happens to be his grandfather's 94th birthday. After our special ride, we FaceTimed his mom and grandfather in India and took the surprise international. And to put a cherry on top of this particular visit, Jeremiah's dad, Mervin, cooked our whole team, a homemade lunch. We were so touched by this. Mervin tells us how much he appreciates all of the Protect Purdue communication from the university.

Mervin Montero: I think, right off the bat, when this whole thing started, the communication coming from the school, the letters and how you take care of students, it's safe enough to come back to campus, how you did the drawing, that was good.

Kate Young: From Naperville, we had one more surprise planned for that evening. Okay. So we hit the road again, in our minivan. We've got, how many of us? We got five of us in here. We just stopped in Naperville with Jeremiah and his dad, Mervin and Jeremiah's dad made us lunch. Like a homemade cooked lunch. And it was just so special. Team, how are you feeling? We have one more surprise to go.

Bailey: I am feeling great now that I have a full belly, thanks to Jeremiah's parents. We've got a few hours in the car, caravanning with the special. So if you saw the special on the road, then you know where we're headed.

Kate Young: Becky, our wonderful photographer, what do you think about our road trip so far?

Becky: It's been really fun. It's been exciting to see the reveals and the students' reactions. We've been having fun on these trips and it's been great.

Kate Young: And Will, our man behind the lens. He's used to being behind the camera, but I'm going to put them on this podcast.

Will: Hello. The things are great. It's fun editing in the back of the van that Bailey's driving.

Kate Young: Finding and reaching out to this student's family, it was quite the journey. Her mom, Marie, was really hesitant when I first called and rightfully so. I was a stranger, saying we wanted to surprise her daughter for a podcast interview. Anyway, after a quick phone call, she told me she would Google me and this podcast, just to make sure. Two hours later, this email landed in my inbox. Hey Kate, I checked the Purdue website. You are indeed real, LOL. Here's Emily's dad, Allen, explaining what he thought of our podcast ploy.

Allan: Well, you know, everybody gets a lot of goofy calls, so it's like," Really? Who are you, really?"

Kate Young: From there, we went into full on planning mode. It was our first very public surprise on the Monon Trail in Broad Ripple, in Indianapolis. Hello. This is Kate.

Marie: Hi Kate. This is Marie.

Kate Young: Hey, Marie, how are you?

Marie: Okay. I'm driving now, so I can't quite hear.

Kate Young: Sure.

Marie: Can you hear me all right?

Kate Young: I can hear you. Yep. Can you hear me?

Marie: Yep.

Kate Young: Great.

Marie: Okay. This puts a little wrinkle in my pot.

Kate Young: Okay.

Marie: So I don't really know where BRICS Ice Cream is. Is it visible from the trail?

Kate Young: Marie even emailed our team a diagram of exactly where they usually walk on the trail, to help us with our setup efforts. We approached Emily Horvath, who's in her last year as a pharmacy student, at Purdue, while she was on a leisurely walk with her mom.

Emily Horvath: What?

Kate Young: You won the Old Golden Ticket.

Emily Horvath: Are you serious? Oh my God!

Kate Young: Are you happy your family here?

Emily Horvath: Yeah. Hi guys!

Kate Young: Her dad Allen, plus her brother and sister- in- law, both Purdue grads, were there on the Boilermaker special, holding up the Old Golden Ticket, as confetti swirled in the air. Emily is currently in rotations at IU Health Methodist in Indy. She worked as a contact tracer for Protect Purdue last year and in January, Emily helps administer some of the first COVID- 19 vaccines in Indiana.

Emily Horvath: Well, yeah, 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'm been glad that Purdue's advocating for the vaccine and everything. And I really can't talk enough about how proud I am that Purdue handled everything so well with COVID, especially since last year was my last year on campus, full- time. I really was thankful to be able to be back and have one last year with my friends and participating in a lot of those organizations that I'm passionate about. So I talk about it a lot this is definitely something I'm passionate about, so I'm kind of blown away that this is happening right now.

Kate Young: So tell us what this tuition money means to you. It's a full year of in- state tuition.

Emily Horvath: I mean, after six years of school at Purdue, it's definitely a huge game changer. It makes life a lot easier, that's for sure. I don't think it's sunk in yet, right now.

Kate Young: What does it mean that your family is here and that they were in on this?

Emily Horvath: That's amazing. I don't know. I'm excited. I thought it was just regular Tuesday night, going on a walk with my mom.

Kate Young: Emily's mom, Marie, also expressed her appreciation about students being able to go back to school in- person, last year.

Marie: I was so thankful that Mitch and the team put together a plan that kept the school open, in- person.

Kate Young: After that surprise in Indy, we hit the road again. It was time to head back to west Lafayette. Okay. We just got done with our third reveal of the day. It is 7: 30. Have we been on the road for 12 hours? 11 hours?

Becky: Yeah. Just about.

Bailey: 11 hours. Yeah.

Kate Young: It's so fun. It feels like we're obviously making people's days, weeks, lives with these surprises, so it feels really good.

Becky: It does. The reactions have been amazing and it's just awesome to be able to be there and to see that and broadcast it to everyone.

Bailey: So the suspension is still real because we have five more tickets to give out and we've logged over, well almost, 1000 miles so far. So we still have a few more students to surprise and we're really excited.

Becky: We made it home.

Will: Yay!

Bailey: And we have posted everything for today. It's on social. It's live and we're pulling in. Over and out.

Kate Young: So our major travel day was complete, but of course not all of our winners lived within driving distance. So on our fourth day of reveals, we set up some virtual podcast interviews and our team's studio. First up, Min Kung Lee, a first year PhD student from South Korea, studying industrial engineering. And we got the graduate school Dean Linda Mason, in on the surprise. I actually have a special guest here. It's Dean Mason. I want to introduce her to you and she's going to just chat with you really quick.

Min Kung Lee: Okay.

Kate Young: Hi, Min, how are you?

Min Kung Lee: Hi. Good. How are you?

Dean Linda Mason: I'm doing awesome. Thanks for having the opportunity to chat with us about Protect Purdue. We're really pleased that you were vaccinated.

Min Kung Lee: Thanks for giving me the opportunity share my experience.

Dean Linda Mason: Yeah. The vaccination is really important, we know, so that you can have the normal part of Purdue, right? That you want for the fall and for all of us. Well, I think you probably are familiar with all the things that go on to protect Purdue and one of them was for the students to upload their vaccination card, that they had rights, so that we would all know who's vaccinated. And you uploaded their vaccination card, so thank you so much for doing that. We really appreciate it. And I just wanted to let you know that, guess what?

Min Kung Lee: What?

Dean Linda Mason: You're a winner.

Min Kung Lee: Really?

Dean Linda Mason: You're going to get a check for$ 9, 909.

Min Kung Lee: Wow!

Dean Linda Mason: Congratulations.

Min Kung Lee: Oh, I didn't expect it.

Dean Linda Mason: What a surprise for you. And we hope that this will help you with all the things associated with graduate school and expenses, and really appreciate your efforts for going above and beyond and getting vaccinated and protecting all of us at Purdue and all the students in your lab and your professors and all that. So congratulations!

Min Kung Lee: Thank you so much.

Dean Linda Mason: I'm glad you're surprised. That's the whole point. What are your thoughts?

Min Kung Lee: Well, I didn't expect this.

Dean Linda Mason: Well, good. Then the surprise worked.

Kate Young: Min was so incredibly shocked and thankful.

Min Kung Lee: Actually, after the COVID pandemic, my dad lost job. My family is not supporting any more, so I've been having some financial issues. It means a lot to me.

Kate Young: It truly never got old, changing these students' lives with these$ 9, 992 Old Golden Tickets. After Min, we had two more virtual reveals. Suria Salem, a sophomore from Plano, Texas, is a computer science major in Krannert School of Management, minor. We had College of Science, Dean Patrick Wolf, joined us for this surprise. Why do you think it was important to get vaccinated and to help protect fellow students, professors?

Suria Salem: I think the sooner everyone gets vaccinated, the sooner we can return to a normal state of business, but also helps people meeting others, as well as their teachers, so that they actually interact with the teachers, rather than sending them a message on Zoom or other forms of classes.

Kate Young: I agree. I actually have some news for you. You're the winner.

Suria Salem: Oh, really?

Kate Young: Yeah, really.

Suria Salem: Oh, thank you so much.

Kate Young: How do you feel? Are you surprised?

Suria Salem: Yes. I did not expect to win. This will really help with a lot of things.

Kate Young: Yeah. What does this tuition money mean to you?

Suria Salem: It'll help ease some of the burden on my parents because I know they're helping me through with college, so this will mean a lot to them. And I'm also trying to make my own money so that after college, I can hopefully pay them back.

Dean Patrick Wolf: Suria, congratulations and thank you. Not just for helping to protect Purdue, but for undertaking this and for the general benefit of public health. We're very, very grateful and very proud of everything that everyone at Purdue has done.

Kate Young: After Suria and Dean Wolf discussed what he wanted to do after graduation and got a little networking in...

Dean Patrick Wolf: Give me a call sometime. We can get lunch. I have a friend who went to work for one of their competitors and is heading up their program, so I'm happy to chat with you offline about that. I mean, it's a hugely exciting area.

Kate Young: Suria told me about one of his favorite memories from his time at Purdue, so far.

Suria Salem: There was one time where me and my friends, we, as initiation into our friend group, we had this really spicy ramen that we got. And it was like the two times spicy. We had people eat like a whole bowl and try to finish it in under a minute and they couldn't drink milk or anything for like five minutes after, so they would just be like rolling on the ground, trying to not pass out from the spiciness.

Kate Young: Okay. So I won't be participating in this spicy ramen contest, but it was fun to hear more about his experiences at Purdue. Our final virtual reveal of the day was Kaylee Cook from Maineville, Ohio. She's an incoming freshman, majoring in engineering.

Kaylee Cook: In- person learning is super important, especially with your first time experience. My mom's a teacher, so we talk all the time about how the learning experience online is so different and how the academic curve of online, versus in- person and being able to get help from the teachers and the people and being able to talk face- to- face, it's a total difference in the education.

Kate Young: And why did you choose to get vaccinated?

Kaylee Cook: I got vaccinated just because I cared about protecting the people around me. One of my neighbors is a leukemia survivor, so they can't get the vaccine. Being able to protect those I love and care about is really important to me.

Kate Young: That's awesome. I actually have a special surprise for you. Are you aware of the Old Golden Ticket Vaccination Drawing?

Kaylee Cook: Yes.

Kate Young: You won!

Kaylee Cook: What?

Kate Young: crosstalk. You won $ 9, 990.

Kaylee Cook: That is amazing. Thank you.

Kate Young: Kaylee's reaction was so genuine. Are you surprised?

Kaylee Cook: Yes. Very. Very surprised.

Kate Young: That's our goal. That's the goal. What does this tuition money mean to you as an incoming freshman?

Kaylee Cook: Well, especially as a freshman, I haven't really had a chance to start really saving for college and having this opportunity towards some of my books or my tuition, is really, really important. I'm still in shock. Purdue was already the top of my list and this just makes it so much... Like you guys are my favorite people.

Kate Young: Kaylee says she's looking forward to meeting new friends and starting this new chapter of life at Purdue this fall. Now it's time to clean up the studio and head to our last in- person reveal, which is truly bittersweet. All right. We are on day four of our reveals. We have had four reveals today and we are living off caffeine. I would say that's safe to say, right?

Bailey: Yes. And candy.

Kate Young: And candy. We've had some Starbursts, some Sour Patch Kids.

Bailey: Swept a lot of confetti.

Kate Young: Yes. Lots of confetti. Today we did some virtual ones and that was really fun. We had a couple of deans and on the surprise, so that was a special element to add. And now we are heading to our last in- person one. It's kind of bittersweet because this has been so fun.

Ashley: Yeah. I'm really excited to see this student's reaction tonight. We've got his family in on the surprise. They're coming from out of town from Illinois to a surprise their son for dinner and be a part of the special reveal. So really looking forward to that.

Kate Young: Our social media manager, Ashley, explains what it was like to be live posting these incredible photos and videos on Purdue's social media channels throughout these surprise reveals. You don't normally get to be present for all of the cool stuff that you post on our social media channel.

Ashley: Yes, that's very true. It was awesome to be here. I can't imagine doing this, not being present, with everything that had to happen on the fly and all the information that we were able to get and just feeding off of the excitement that we've all been feeling and the people that we've been revealing to, the winners of the Golden Ticket and the excitement that they've had has been awesome, being able to meet them and the families and stuff.

Kate Young: Well, we headed off to surprise Alec Vusco, a mechanical engineering student from New Lenox, Illinois. I had left a few voicemails on Alec's parents' cell phones before I heard anything.

Mom: You guys were funny on the phone, the way you tried to kind of tell us, but not really tell us. It was cute.

Kate Young: We had to tip off Alec's parents about the surprise, but they were excited to help us plan.

Dan Vusco: Hey Kate, this is Dan Vusco, when referring to Alec. We found out and we can meet you Wednesday at 5: 30. I think you guys can probably pick the location.

Kate Young: So we had Alec's girlfriend lead him out of his on- campus apartment, thinking he would be grabbing a casual dinner with his parents.

Speaker 29: Surprise.

Kate Young: Tell us how you feel.

Alec Vusco: I kind of don't believe it. What are the odds of that? Really, what are the odds? We did it.

Kate Young: Congratulations.

Alec Vusco: I don't know how to react. I basically don't know how to move my body right now. I don't know how to react.

Kate Young: ALec is part of GEARE, Global Engineering Alliance of Research and Education and he explains why being in- person last year at Purdue was so important to him.

Alec Vusco: Personally, I learn much better in person, so that was very, very nice. And just being in- person, it's always great to see everyone else's faces and gives more community feeling.

Kate Young: Here's Alec's mom, Lisa, weighing in on the Purdue community.

Lisa: It's funny because he's our second to go to college and when he came here to look at the school for the first time, I remember I texted Dan and I said, he's definitely going. It was such a fit for him. It was the community. It was the students, the professors. It was the perfect fit for him.

Kate Young: After the surprise, Alec's parents and girlfriend took a Boilermaker special ride, complete with the Mini Monster from Silver Dipper. And last, but certainly not least. We had our 10th winner revealed virtually, as this student lives in the U. K., with her family.

Nanity Krishna: Hi, sorry for not responding sooner. I thought it was a scam at first, because I've done a lot of things that are like," Hey, can you respond to this," and I didn't know. I should've looked it up. I'm sorry.

Kate Young: So as you heard, Nanity Krishna thought my emails and phone calls were spam and we can't blame her. We're happy we finally got ahold of her. She's a junior computer engineering major who would like to go into software engineering, after she graduates from Purdue. She tells us what this tuition money means to her.

Nanity Krishna: It's a lot of money. It's going to pay for a lot of my tuition. Obviously, I'm an international student, so that helps quite a lot.

Kate Young: Wow! What a whirlwind. Throughout these reveals, I couldn't count how many people mentioned what an amazing job that I have and they're right. Getting texts from parents about how special we made their kids feel, witnessing tears from the winners, seeing the utter shock, it made everything so worth it. But it wasn't just me. Yes, I was hosting and I had the honor of revealing the surprise to the winners, but Bailey, Ashley, Becky, and Will, the Wonka Crew, they were right there next to me, driving our rented minivan, popping the gold confetti, operating the drone, grabbing that perfect candid photo and so much more. This crew made delivering life- changing tickets to 10 Boilermaker students sweeter than Charlie's chocolate bar. Check out the videos of our winners. Trust us. You'll want to see these reactions, on Purdue's YouTube channel. Just head over to purdue. university/ winners. That's purdue. university/ winners. Thanks for listening to this is Purdue. For more information on this episode, visit our website at purdue. edu/ podcast. There, you can head over to your favorite podcast app to subscribe and leave us a review. And as always, Boiler up.

Today's Host

Guest Thumbnail

Kate Young

|Digital Content Strategist + Host, This is Purdue Podcast

In this special edition of This Is Purdue, we’re featuring our journey to find and award the 10 Boilermakers who entered the Old Golden Ticket Vaccination Drawing.  


Students who submitted valid proof that they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by July 15 were randomly selected to win the ‘Golden Ticket’ - $9,992 - the equivalent of a year’s undergraduate tuition cost for an in-state Boilermaker since 2013. 


Listen in as the Purdue University Marketing and Communications team highlights the behind-the-scenes details of pulling off these ultimate surprises from finding students on campus to crossing state lines to getting the parents in on the celebration. You don’t want to miss this episode!