The generosity of the wider veterinary college community—the very heartbeat of the college—continues to ease the way for veterinary students now and in the future.

Exemplifying that giving spirit are Blacksburg residents Betty McClellan and Michael Owens, who are establishing the McClellan Owens Family Pet Veterinary Scholarship, an endowed scholarship to benefit first-generation veterinary students with demonstrated financial need.

“Education for even one person in a family can change the economic situation for future generations of that family,” said McClellan, who, with Owens, is genuinely excited to be able to provide opportunities to the college’s students.

Although McClellan and Owens do not have children, they have had many pets that they treasured like kids. Over the years, they have been moved by the extraordinary care their pets received from veterinarians: from closing an office to perform an emergency surgery to driving an hour to be at their home when it was time for their beloved Newf to be euthanized.

The compassion and care shown by their veterinarians guided the couple’s decision-making surrounding their estate plan. Committed to ensuring their estate would be as helpful as possible to both people and animals, McClellan and Owens realized that a scholarship fund, which would help reduce financial burden and allow veterinary students to focus on preparing for the career they dreamed of, was a perfect fit.

A two-time alumna and former employee of Virginia Tech, McClellan is proud to be part of the university community. Upon retirement, the couple moved back to Blacksburg to enjoy both small-town life and the amenities afforded by a large research university, including access to world-class veterinary care, uncommon in a small town.

When they discovered that the home next to theirs was rented almost exclusively by veterinary students, the relationships they formed with the students and their pets gave them deep insight into the students’ struggles—and put a face to the importance of giving back.

“We certainly can’t take the money with us,” McClellan said, “but we can continue to make a positive impact for years to come.