“Thirty-nine,” Dean M. Daniel Givens said to a crowd of scholarship recipients and donors. “Thirty-nine of the 126 students who started our program this fall received scholarships because of the commitment of individuals and organizations represented in this room.”

Each year, the veterinary college hosts An Evening of Gratitude to gather scholarship donors and recipients to celebrate and show gratitude for our donors' commitment to the next generation of veterinarians. On March 19, this event was able to be held in-person once again, and the room was buzzing with energy as people discussed the impact scholarships have on the lives of students — and the ongoing need to provide more scholarship funding.

At the onset of the event, donors such as Angela Shelor King were able to connect with students and express why giving back is important to them. After hearing horror stories of vet students living out of their cars, she wanted to help in any way she could, especially because she had such positive experiences bringing her own pets to the veterinary college. “I never hear vets say, ‘I want to make money.’ It’s the passion for animals, helping people, and giving back,” King said.

This evening is so impactful as it allows donors the opportunity to hear firsthand from students about the importance of scholarships. Second-year student Savannah Weatherford was excited to express her gratitude as she mingled with donors.

“My scholarship covered most of my housing fall semester,” Weatherford said. “Having people willing to help us with our passion for animals and come out of school with less debt is a real privilege.”

Evenings such as these create interpersonal relationships that encourage and inspire individuals with the means to help aspiring health professionals — an important goal as showing faith in students is crucial during the trials of full-time graduate professional study.

As the event neared its end, there was an opportunity for donors, students, and faculty to address the group. Mike Stanton, a committed supporter of student scholarships, made an impassioned speech encouraging the student body. "As soon-to-be veterinarians, you are the healers of [the world’s] creatures. If you ever feel overwhelmed by your studies or by the challenges and pains of your veterinary practice, don't lose sight of your incomparable contributions as a selfless healer."

Donor support goes beyond helping students financially. Third-year scholarship recipient Stephanie Lees told the crowd, “What may seem like a simple act of donating to a scholarship fund is actually an invaluable gift to students. It allows us to decrease our stress levels, focus on our studies, and sustain our mental health. Your support truly is a precious asset. Your impact is far beyond financial.”