An early morning phone call changed Yueqi Diao’s life. So much so, that she has committed the exact time of the call to memory. “At 6:46 a.m., our phone rang. My mom, who works 60 hours a week, was already at work, so I was the only one home to answer it. It was so early in the morning that I had a hard time fully understanding what they were saying to me on the other end,” said Diao.

That call was from New York State’s “Get a Shot to Make Your Future” vaccine incentive team. They were calling to inform Yueqi that she, along with 49 other New York State vaccinated college-bound students, won a full-ride scholarship to any SUNY or CUNY school. 

“My mom saw the advertisement for the drawing and encouraged me to enter, but we never thought that I would win,” admitted Diao. 

The vaccination scholarship includes full financial coverage of tuition, fees, and room and board at any public college or university and is financed through Federal COVID-19 relief and outreach funds. All vaccinated New York students between the ages of 12-17 were eligible to win. 

“While COVID-19 did not personally affect my family, we believe in science and medical research. We put a big priority on the vaccine. As soon as we were eligible, we came to SUNY Broome’s Ice Center to be vaccinated,” said Diao. 

With a full-ride scholarship in hand, Yueqi Diao was left to make the ultimate decision – where should she go to college and apply this incredible funding? This decision was made even more challenging by the fact that Yueqi was admitted to all of the 13 schools to which she applied. “My goal in life is to be a nurse, and I knew that the best and fastest way to become a nurse was to come to SUNY Broome Community College,” stated Diao. 

Yueqi Diao was born in Sichuan, China. She emigrated to the United States with her parents and younger sister when she was in the 7th grade. They first settled in Newark, NJ, but decided to relocate to Binghamton, NY the following year so that Yueqi and her sister could attend better schools. “My mom has always loved the United States and always wanted to move here. My family is so proud to be New Yorkers,” said Diao. 

As a young student, Yueqi focused her energy on learning the English language and completing her schoolwork. She felt that mastering English should be her top priority, but she eventually made room in her study schedule to take up swimming in her junior year at Binghamton High School. 

Yueqi’s academic diligence paid off. She was admitted to over a dozen colleges, which included direct admission into SUNY Broome’s highly competitive nursing program. In the Fall 2021 application cycle, SUNY Broome received 522 nursing applications and admitted the top 72 students based on their performance in the prerequisite courses of math, biology, and chemistry, performance on the pre-nursing entrance exam, and GPA. 

“Nurses truly are my heroes. I am honored to join them. I am most excited for my nursing clinicals. I can’t wait to interact with real patients and offer my support and care,” gushed Diao as she walked through the nursing lab. 

The “Get a Shot to Make Your Future” scholarship could not have been bestowed upon a more appreciative student. “I have so many people to thank. I would like to thank the nurses and essential workers, whom I hope to work alongside one day. I would like to thank my mother for teaching me how to work hard. I would like to thank my teachers for helping to prepare me for college and I would like to thank Cathy Williams in the Foundation for kindly helping my family to understand the specifics of the scholarship.” 

Yueqi plans to complete her Nursing A.A.S. degree and apply her vaccination scholarship to transfer to Binghamton University to complete her B.S.N.