August 6, 2021

Husker filling her plate, thanks to the COVID-19 vaccine

Julia Stephenson poses for a photo in front of a mural.

Julia Stephenson, a sophomore, won $250 in dining dollars through the COVID-19 vaccine giveaway.

For one Husker, protecting herself and those around her will help fill her plate — literally and figuratively.

Julia Stephenson, a sophomore psychology and philosophy major, is looking forward to a busy, and hopefully more normal, academic year, and plans to fill her calendar with mock trial meets, classes and events with friends.

She’ll also be able to eat for free for a while at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s dining centers between classes and studying. Stephenson was one of the seven student winners of vaccine registration giveaways announced July 27, and received $250 in dining dollars. Each week, the names of seven students — graduate and undergraduate — and one faculty or staff member are drawn for prizes ranging from a smart watch and weekly massages to Husker football season tickets.

“My first thought when I got the email was, ‘Is this a scam?’ but I remembered checking the box for the raffle and then I thought it was funny and I texted my mom because I’ve never won a raffle in my whole life,” Stephenson said. “I live off-campus, but I usually end up on campus for full days and I don’t have time to run home for dinner. I spent a lot of money on restaurants downtown or in the union last year. I’ve never had a meal plan, and I’m excited to do that and save some of my own money.”

Stephenson got vaccinated in April. She said she was nervous about it but did it to help protect her mom, who has health issues that put her at a higher risk of complications from COVID-19.

“I signed up almost immediately, as soon as the registration opened,” she said. “I was living with my mom at the time. I wasn’t worried about myself, but living with my mom, I was being more careful to keep her from getting sick.

“And I wanted to do my part toward getting life back to normal.”

Getting back to normal for Stephenson means looking forward to traveling with her mock trial teammates — something they didn’t get to experience in 2020. The aspiring lawyer is ready to get into the courtroom.

“It didn’t really feel like mock trial, doing everything over Zoom,” she said. “I’m excited to be able to do a full mock trial and road trip with the team.”