New Jersey Department of Health

PO Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

For Release:
May 22, 2024

Kaitlan Baston, MD, MSc, DFASAM

For Further Information Contact:
Office of Communications
(609) 984-7160

NJ College Winners Announced for Digital Campus Vaccine Contest

Rutgers-New Brunswick Student Named First Place Winner

NEWARK, NJ (May 22, 2024) – The Partnership for Maternal and Child Health of Northern New Jersey, in collaboration with the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH), announced winners of Step Up Vax Up, a statewide college vaccine contest. The digital contest challenged New Jersey college and university students to think creatively to promote vaccine awareness and overall campus health and wellness.

Students enrolled in New Jersey colleges and universities participated in the contest by submitting digital content including videos (YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram Reels), podcasts, recorded episodes, and social media posts.

"Congratulations to all students and faculty who supported this year’s Step Up Vax Up contest,” said Mariekarl Vilceus-Talty, MA, BSN, President & CEO of the Partnership. “We’re very pleased that this contest inspired New Jersey college students to creatively educate their campuses through engaging digital content.”

Cash prizes were awarded to the top-rated student submissions for first ($5,000), second ($2,000), and third place ($1,500). Three honorable mentions ($500 each) were also awarded.

"We are immensely impressed by the creativity of all the students who participated in the contest,” said Dr. Tina Tan, State Epidemiologist and NJDOH Assistant Commissioner. “These talented students have demonstrated their commitment to highlighting the importance of vaccination awareness and combating misinformation across their college campuses.”

Winners and honorable mentions include:

  • First place winner ($5,000): Nohman Sohail – Rutgers-New Brunswick
  • Second place winners ($2,000): Emma Tomczynski, Samira Adam, Kyle Levy, and Kayla McKellar (team) – The College of New Jersey
  • Third place winners ($1,500): Radhika Vyas, Laysha Hernandez, and Destiny Newton (team) – The College of New Jersey
  • Honorable mentions:
    • Kevin Hoppe, Cristabel Acquah, and Jessica Rojas (team) – The College of New Jersey
    • Andrea Ferreira – Rutgers-New Brunswick
    • Nikos DeGruccio – The College of New Jersey
  • School staff champion winner ($1,000): Livia Lazzaro, Internship Coordinator – The College of New Jersey


All winning submissions are available here.

About the Partnership for Maternal and Child Health of Northern New Jersey

The Partnership for Maternal and Child Health of Northern New Jersey is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) corporation, licensed by NJDOH. Its mission is to improve the health of women, children, and families. The Partnership has more than 20 years of experience mounting community-based, consumer-friendly, and culturally competent educational programs to parents, caregivers, pregnant women, and individuals of child-bearing age.

Visit NJDOH’s website to learn more about vaccines.