Otto and Betsy Wegman first became acquainted with the veterinary college when their daughter Laura enrolled as a doctor of veterinary medicine (DVM) student in 1998. “We came up for an open house before she went in,” Betsy Wegman explained.

Their fondness for the college grew exponentially after the couple moved to Blacksburg with a number of elderly animals in tow. The Wegmans’ dog Jack was the first to visit the Veterinary Teaching Hospital for a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee. There, the couple learned their beloved pets could go to the hospital’s Small Animal Community Practice for their regular preventive care visits. “That was just icing on the cake,” Betsy Wegman said. “I didn’t need to go anywhere else, and we got the best available care.”

On several occasions, staff members and students at the veterinary school impressed Betsy by asking about one animal when she was at the community practice or the teaching hospital with another member of her menagerie. “It was like they were real people to them,” said Betsy Wegman. “I think the brightest and best students at Virginia Tech are in that vet school,” she added, before admitting: “My other daughter, [a Virginia Tech aerospace engineering alumna], doesn’t like me to say that.”

After the Wegmans’ daughter—who became Laura Schultz after getting married—graduated in 2002, the couple asked her to recommend a way they could do something for the veterinary school to show appreciation for the care that has been given to their pets. She suggested they donate to the Student Veterinary Medical Fund, which helps students pay for emergency medical expenses for their own pets.

Later, the Wegmans funded the Samantha Grace Schultz scholarship in memory of Schultz’s daughter, who died in infancy. “It was our way of keeping her front and center for us,” Otto Wegman said of the gift. The Wegmans have continued giving to the fund named for their granddaughter over the years, making it an endowed scholarship, one that will benefit students in perpetuity.

“We understand the value of an education,” Otto Wegman said. “We know it’s a lot more expensive now than it used to be, so we’re just trying to help out.”