In August of 2021, Maria and David Williams found themselves at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital (VTH) with their thoroughbred, Whimsy, after their trainer and local veterinarian recommended him for further treatment for a fever of unknown origin. Longtime horse owners from Hickory, North Carolina, the Williamses knew getting Whimsy to a facility with a highly trained staff that have access to state-of-the-art equipment was vital for his health.

Throughout Whimsy’s four-day stay at the VTH, Caitlin Malik, the resident on his case, kept the Williamses informed every step of the way. “Dr. Malik took great care and attention to provide exceptional care to our boy,” Maria said. “She and the rest of the staf f at the hospital were professional and very loving to our horse as well as keeping us updated daily about his progress and challenges.”

Although the underlying cause of the fever was never determined, the doctors and technicians were able to get Whimsy on the path to recovery. The Williamses were so impressed with the attentive and thorough care they received that giving back to the college to support future equine veterinarians was the clear path.

Maria and David Williams

“Equine veterinary medicine is unlike other veterinary practices. The hours are daunting, the work is physically demanding, and they are on the road constantly,” Maria explained. “I’d like to see Virginia Tech attract more equine veterinary students and help support those students with the emotional and physical challenges they will experience.”

To help ease the burdens of those challenges, the Williamses established a new endowed scholarship, the Maria and David Williams Equine Veterinary Scholarship, with a generous commitment to the college of half a million dollars over the next five years.

“I envision our gift will help young equine veterinary students graduate with the opportunity to begin their careers with less debt and more freedom so that they can begin to pursue their careers and lives from a starting place that is more secure and less stressed by debt.”