Provide Meaningful Assistance to Veterinary Medicine Students

Academic scholarships provide Auburn veterinary students valuable financial assistance, impacting their lives for years longer than the actual financial support. In fact, students at the College of Veterinary Medicine point to the mentoring and recognition they receive as leading factors in their successful education.

The college’s administration is making significant strides in keeping the costs of a veterinary education below or in line with national guidelines. The college’s development office helps secure financial gifts to keep the college on track and assist students with their educational goals.

This year, the college awarded nearly $750,000 in scholarships and awards to DVM students. For the 2016-17 academic year, about 48% of CVM’s second-, third-, and fourth-year students received some sort of financial aid.

Two significant factors are keeping Auburn students’ tuition at an affordable level:

  • The CVM has the second-lowest academic cost of any U.S.-based veterinary program.
  • A three-year trend in which the average indebtedness of Auburn’s at-large students is consistently decreasing below the national average for veterinary students.

“The college’s commitment to an affordable, solid education is mirrored by the donors of academic scholarships, who believe, like we do, that assisting our students in being successful in the classroom and in daily life is important,” said Dr. Dan Givens, associate dean for Academic Affairs.

“We are committed to keeping the educational indebt-edness as low as possible for at-large students, Kentucky students and Alabama students,” Dr. Givens added.

CVM Development Director Diana Turner said, “I am proud that we are able to provide our students with financial assistance through the generosity of the college’s loyal supporters. They are making a difference in a future veterinarian’s career success.

“Our scholarship support goal is to exceed $1 million by 2020,” she said. “Thank you for providing this wonderful support to Auburn’s veterinary students.”

The college recently honored donors of academic scholarships and awards with a luncheon, where students were able to meet with their scholarship donors. The third year for the luncheon, donors learned first-hand how their gifts are impacting DVM students, and each scholarship beneficiary learned about his or her unique award.

“Today’s luncheon is about the personal narrative,” Dr. Givens said, because, in the case of the donor and the student recipient, they are provided the opportunity to meet and learn about each other. “This day is about celebrating the donor and focusing on the development of a relationship between our donors and students.”

Mike and Susan McCrary of Fairhope, Ala., provide the Judith McCrary Scholarship, given in honor of Mike’s late mother, for a veterinary student from Pike County, Alabama. For Douglas Hawkins III, who is a third-gen-eration Auburn-educated veterinarian, the scholarship is a perfect match for the hometown and profession he loves.

“The monetary gift is so appreciated because it is helping me fulfill my dream, and I’m extremely proud of where I am from and my family heritage,” said Hawkins, a second-year student. “It’s phenomenal to get support from a family who is committed to helping students earn a veterinary medical education.”

Mike McCrary said when he and his wife, Susan, thought about honoring his mother, they thought of the things she loved: animals, education and Pike County. “I inherited my mother’s animal gene; she loved them as much as we do. That made it fairly easy to find a way to honor Mother and remember her in such a tangible way.”

Dr. Glen Puckett ’08 of Auburn represented the East Alabama Veterinary Medical Association, which provides an academic scholarship based on leadership as well as financial need.

“We are a relatively small organization but understand how impactful a scholarship can be and how it makes a student feel appreciated,” Dr. Puckett said. “We feel it is important to help students with the largest problem our profession faces, the huge debt load.

“I’m relatively successful in my practice but it took me a while to be able to pay off student loans and I remember how important scholarships were to me. I wish we could do more.”

For third-year student Rachel Burt of Columbiana, Ala., the financial support is important, but knowing that the gift came from veterinarians to recognize her leadership qualities is what she is most grateful for. “I am floored by the recognition and it really makes a difference when you are faced with the academic hurdles we face in our education,” she said. “It made me realize that I am obtaining the goals I’m striving toward and someone in the profession has recognized me for it.”

Erika Gibson, a second-year student who is the recipient of the Jefferson County VMA scholarship, agrees. “Before entering the veterinary program, I worked two jobs to save money, but loans are the only [way] I have to pay for my education. It’s nice to know that there are people who are willing to help.”

Dr. Belinda Eckhoff, the current treasurer of the JCVMA, said the organization is committed to helping future veterinarians succeed. “We believe that supporting students is important, that it is helping the profession grow. We understand the debt load because we were once in the role students are in today, so helping with their debt load is important.”

Debbie Allen of Auburn established the Kevin Bell & Shelby Scholarship in memory of her son. “We established this scholarship originally in the College of Liberal Arts, where Kevin graduated from in 2000, but the College of Veterinary Medicine had always taken care of Kevin’s service dog, and because it was such great care, we moved the scholarship to the College of Veterinary Medicine. Our desire is to help compas-sionate veterinary students.”

Kevin Bell Scholarship recipient Drew Lowry, a fourth-year student from Birmingham, says it “reinforces just how great an impact this college has on the community that it serves. My hope is to practice in the Birmingham or Nashville area, and to give back to the community through my own veterinary practice.”

Dan Rummel, who represented the Central Cattlemen’s Association of S.C., which provides the Dr. Robert Beatty Jr. Annual Memorial Scholarship, said the organization wanted to honor Dr. Beatty, who was an Auburn alumnus. “Dr. Beatty taught at Clemson University, but he always loved Auburn deeply.”

Amelie Rivaleau, a fourth-year student from Charleston, S.C., said “it is an honor to receive a scholarship from my home state and be able to attend veterinary school here at Auburn.”

The Deborah Harrington Memorial Scholarship was established by Dr. Don ’61 and Joyce Cheatham in memory of their daughter, Deborah Harrington.

“She was a very compassionate person, and we have seen that same kind of compassion among veterinarians,” Dr. Cheatham said. “Animals establish a bond with compassionate people and compassionate caregivers. We want this scholarship to go to a veterinary student who exhibits that kind of compassion.”

Fourth-year student Matt Miller, of Wheeling, W. Va., said, “This scholarship gives me the opportunity to further myself and my career and to get out and start serving as a veterinarian sooner than I could otherwise. I am so grateful and appreciative to the Cheathams and to the College of Veterinary Medicine.”

Sara LaRosche, a fourth-year student from Huntsville, who received the Dr. M.K. Heather Memorial Scholarship, says the recognition is vital for her and her fellow students. “You can struggle to be successful in veterinary medicine because the classes are intense. The scholarship has shown me that I can be recognized for studying hard and is an incentive to keep going.”

Mary McClosky, a fourth-year student from Bay Minette, who received the Lew & Donna Angarano Scholarship, agrees. “I’m so grateful for the words of encouragement and I love that this luncheon is an opportunity for us to spend time together. It speaks to the Auburn family and to the close-knit community of veterinary medicine.”

Dr. Nora Grant has been instrumental in establishing a scholarship for the late Lauren Kirkley, a family friend who suffered from a seizure disorder. Dr. Grant and her family established a scholarship to honor the relationship Kirkley had with her dog Ruby, who alerted and was instrumental in her care. “Ruby and Lauren bonded in a special way and it makes sense to help a veterinary student and honor Lauren in this way,” Dr. Grant said.

Kirkley scholarship recipient Jennifer Lyons, a second-year student, who works with an animal service organization, said “it’s not raising a puppy but taking the human/animal bond and making it real.“

Learning about Lauren makes my scholarship more meaningful and special.”