Stantons’ full-tuition scholarship gift makes veterinary college possible for Lemus of 2026 class
June 9, 2023
Diana Lemus ’19 entered Virginia Tech with no idea whether she could, or would, enter veterinary studies.
Michael and Jennifer Stanton had never stepped on the campus of the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine (VMCVM) when they financed their first four-year full-tuition scholarship in 2018.
But now, it is Lemus benefiting from the Stantons’ generosity, having completed her first year of studies as the latest recipient of the Michael and Jennifer Stanton Family Pet Veterinary Scholarship.
“My senior year of college I realized I no longer wanted to pursue a career in dietetics,” said Lemus, who graduated as a major in Human Nutrition, Foods and Exercise. “I never really thought about my career plans prior to college as none of the adults in my family went, so I did not have a lot of guidance. When I got accepted to Virginia Tech in 2015, I chose dietetics with only a partial vision of what I would like to do/study.
“It never occurred to me that I could go to vet school, if that was even something I was capable of doing,” Lemus said. “I enjoyed volunteering at the Montgomery Humane Society during undergrad and always enjoyed the sciences so I decided that veterinary medicine would be a good fit for me. “
"We support the VMCVM because healing pets helps to heal people – the world gets two great outcomes for the price of one."
Getting accepted to the veterinary college was “bittersweet,” Lemus said. “While I was happy all my hard worked paid off, that happiness quickly faded to anxiousness and stress because I had to figure out how I was going to pay for this,” Lemus said. “Simply put, I don’t come from a lot of money and my sisters and I are my mom’s retirement plan. Therefore, paying for school wasn’t just paying for school, it was— how can I pay off this debt and also help with my mom’s finances in the future?”
Enter the Stantons.
“We support the VMCVM because healing pets helps to heal people – the world gets two great outcomes for the price of one,” said Michael Stanton, dean’s advisory council member and philanthropic partner. “What could be better than healing living beings, and where could you find a better value?”
Having had to work full-time herself while studying through four years at Duke University and then three years of law school, it was particularly important to Jennifer Stanton that their scholarship go to a student who would otherwise not be able to financially afford to attend vet school.
The scholarship is awarded to an entering veterinary student focusing on family pet medicine who must be a Virginia resident with pressing financial need. The scholarship renews for four years if the recipient remains in good academic standing.
The Stantons’ connection to VMCVM began when their veterinarian, Adam Henderson ‘07, DVM ‘11, directed them to the college when they wanted to give back in memory of their dogs Mariah and Gordon.
"It is a grand act of selflessness to give money not knowing who it will go to and I hope that generosity showers their life with happiness and abundance."
In addition to their scholarship, the Stantons have made a generous commitment to be a founding partner of the expansion and renovation of the Small Animal Veterinary Teaching Hospital.
At her white coat ceremony, Lemus had the chance to meet Jennifer Stanton.
“I told her that words cannot do justice to express how grateful I am for their generosity,” Lemus said. “It is a grand act of selflessness to give money not knowing who it will go to and I hope that generosity showers their life with happiness and abundance.”
“This scholarship allows me the privilege of enjoying veterinary school and being a veterinary student. After many months of stress, I am at a place of peace — where I have the privilege of just focusing on school and this scholarship motivates me to do my very best.”