An unfulfilled dream has inspired one couple to help others fulfill theirs.

 Joanne Griffin knew from an early age that she wanted to be a veterinarian.  

 “As a child I loved animals and always tried to help them when they were hurt,” Griffin said. “I brought home every bird, squirrel, raccoon, worm, you name it, I tried to fix them all.” She was particularly fond of her dog, Rusty, who she would sometimes sleep beside in his doghouse, until her parents finally decided it would be better if Rusty just slept in their young daughter’s room.

But when it came to apply to a veterinary college in another state in the 1960s, Griffin said she was told that while she had the grades and entrance scores, she would have to intern with an established veterinarian for three years before re-applying and perhaps being considered again.  

“I still have the letter and periodically I read it to remind me just how far woman have come in the veterinary medicine world,” Griffin said. “I see many more women in the field then men today and I am thankful for that. My motivating factor in wanting to give back to the veterinary college is to allow all that want to truly become a veterinarian to have the opportunity to do what I could not. “

Griffin and husband Michael Bosch van Drakenstein, who live at Smithfield, Virginia, have a lifelong passion for animals and have taken in many rescues. When they faced the need to select a beneficiary for their estate, they created a full-ride scholarship for a veterinary student at their state’s veterinary college. 

“There was an occasion that Mike and I were talking about our wills and since we have no family left and no one to leave our assets to after we are gone, we were not sure how to proceed with making a difference,” Griffin said. “We spoke with our attorney and he suggested since we both love animals so much to consider making a donation to a veterinary college. I called Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine and spoke with the Endowment Office regarding their process for donations.  Once hearing about all the research and programs that were providing funding for up-and-coming students, we made our decision to leave all our assets to the college to provide funding for any student that truly wanted to make a difference and needed a step up to get there. “

“My dream of being a veterinarian did not happen,” Griffin said. “but hopefully by giving back to the veterinary college it will make it possible for other students to achieve their goals and dreams.” 

Written by Kevin Myatt for the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine


Andrew Mann
Director of Communications and Marketing