Triple winners for first HSVMA/OSVS Compassionate Care Scholarship!
July 22, 2016
2016 marks the first year HSVMA and Ocean State Veterinary Specialists of East Greenwich, R.I. teamed up to recognize veterinary students who have demonstrated an interest in and commitment to animal welfare issues in veterinary medicine. While this is the first year HSVMA was involved in the scholarship, the program was initiated by Dr. Gary Block, HSVMA board member and OSVS owner, eight years ago, because he knew how important it is to recognize students going above and beyond to help animals while pursuing a veterinary career. “Only a truly special veterinary student is capable of devoting significant amounts of time and effort to animal welfare issues while they are undertaking a grueling four year veterinary curriculum.” Dr. Block continues, “This scholarship is a small effort to acknowledge and encourage those students who feel strongly enough to try and make a tangible difference in the lives of animals through educational, direct care, and legislative efforts.”
HSVMA received 25 applications outlining the remarkable work of veterinary students from across the United States. While initially planning to award just one scholarship, we were so impressed that we offered scholarships to three students! “The applications that were submitted showed a breadth of interests and professional aspirations ranging from studying forensic veterinary medicine to improving animal cruelty prosecutions to setting up a mobile spay/neuter clinic in Transylvania. Hopefully, scholarship applicants and scholarship winners will help shape and drive our profession following graduation and become lifelong ambassadors for the HSVMA,” said Dr. Block.
Learn more about the three winners of the inaugural HSVMA/OSVS Compassionate Care Scholarship
University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, class of 2017
Alexandra Shailor knew from a young age that veterinary medicine was her calling. Shadowing a local private practice veterinarian through appointments and surgeries when she was just 11 years-old only helped cement her decision to become a veterinarian. “Fittingly,” Alexandra recalls, “I was standing in this same clinic the day that I received my first vet school acceptance call.”
Alexandra discovered her passion for shelter medicine while she was an undergraduate, during an internship program at Dakin Humane Society in Springfield, Mass. There, she gained the shelter perspectives of medicine and adoption. Her time at Dakin Humane Society not only led to her longtime status as a failed foster pet parent, but also led to her involvement with Kane’s Krusade, a startup organization that works with low-income families to help them keep their pets. Her work with this group gave Alexandra more insight into the population she hopes to serve after graduation.
Almost from the very beginning of her veterinary school career, Alexandra has been responsible for facilitating and coordinating student surgical opportunities at three area shelters as well as at larger scale TNR events in the surrounding counties as the student surgical coordinator for the Shelter Medicine Surgical Opportunities Program. In her time in this position, she has been involved in more than 700 surgeries including feline and canine spays and neuters, amputation, enucleations, and mass removals! According to Dr. Melissa Resnick, Shelter Veterinarian/ Clinical Instructor for the Surgical Opportunities Program, “[Alexandra] not only assists in training students clinically, she also raises awareness among other students about the struggles of access to veterinary care in under-served populations, the importance of educating the public, and the many contributing factors to pet overpopulation. She is a huge inspiration to her other classmates and has gotten many students involved in fostering shelter animals and volunteering in the shelter.” And Alexandra tells us, “this position has been the single most rewarding experience of my career thus far and has been a lifeline for me during the most difficult and stressful periods of vet school. I have had the opportunity not only to gain extensive surgical and technical experience, but to hone both my teaching and leadership skills. In Philadelphia, shelter resources are scarce and every volunteer makes a tangible difference in the shelter population.”
Alexandra’s other activities include serving as the vice president/treasurer of the UPenn Shelter Medicine Club, serving on the UPenn Spay Day Committee, and participating in multiple vaccine clinics, including with The Humane Society of the United States’ Pets for Life program. She has also worked as a veterinary technician in many capacities.
Those who have worked with Alexandra sing her praises. Dr. Resnick is not only inspired by her compassion, but also her dedication: “Despite the demanding schedule of a veterinary student, Alex gives almost all of her free time to volunteer in shelters. If there is an animal in need she will do everything she can to secure medical care and a foster home.” She continues, “Her shelter experience both before and during veterinary school has given her an important perspective into how veterinarians in private practice, low-cost clinics, and shelters must all work together. Her surgical and medical skills are excellent, but more importantly, she truly understands all of the issues in regards to the welfare of feral cats and stray and surrendered dogs and cats. This firsthand experience will prove invaluable as a practicing veterinarian.”
Dr. Hillary Herendeen, staff veterinarian at The Animal Care & Control Team of Philadelphia (the municipal shelter for the city) tells us, “I have no reservations recommending Alex for any scholarship program that values integrity, commitment to animal welfare and especially those individuals committed to protecting and serving the continually at risk population of homeless animals.”
“I have had the chance to experience every aspect of this work, from wellness and preventative care to emergency management to surgery and since the very beginning I have never doubted that shelter medicine was a perfect fit,” she told us. “I hope to make a career as an advocate for animals who would otherwise live without one.”
Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, class of 2018
Advancing animal welfare is the main reason Kelly Arthur decided to pursue a career in veterinary medicine. This passion started when she was 10 year-old, after a neighbor poisoned her puppy, Trey, to stop his barking. “I look back on this as the pivotal moment in my life that made me realize animals need certain protections because of how they can be mistreated and are unable to fight back in many instances,” she told us.
To help her better understand the human-animal bond and better communicate with clients, she helps clients make end-of-life decisions as a volunteer for the Colorado State University Pet Hospice Program, volunteers at vaccine clinics for the homeless, fosters animals, and assists with research projects at CSU’s Agricultural Research Center.
Kelly also has volunteered in an advocacy capacity with both the AVMA and Colorado Veterinary Medical Association, which has exposed her to legislation on a variety of topics, including advocating humane methods to control feral cat populations, attempting to ban tail docking in dairy cattle, and lessening the veterinary student debt burden.
For the past three years, she has participated in the Intercollegiate Animal Welfare Judging and Assessment Contest, which she tells us, “has taught me invaluable lessons about not only understanding science, but being able to convey animal welfare perspectives to a broader audience. These experiences have allowed me to see the breadth of opportunities available in the profession to influence animal welfare.”
Dr. Peter Hellyer, CSU professor of anesthesiology and past president of the CVMA describes Kelly as “an accomplished student, managing a very demanding curriculum while simultaneously undertaking numerous extra-curricular activities related to animal welfare and organized veterinary medicine.”
Dr. Chelsey Shivley, one of Kelly’s CSU Animal Welfare Judging Team coaches, describes Kelly as being “often frustrated as a veterinary student about only learning the results of scientific studies, and not discussing the ethical implications of conducting scientific research on animals. Kelly is determined to bring issues into the light, and help progress the veterinary profession in the field of animal welfare.”
“I see the dichotomy between the animal rights views I grew up with in Los Angeles and the more conservative views I learned in my undergraduate Animal Science degree. I believe this will be beneficial in my future to advance animal welfare even when the opposition can be powerful.” Kelly continues, “I hope I can effectively give back to the profession by working with diverse groups of people to come up with solutions that put the animals first when it comes to relevant animal welfare concerns.”
UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, class of 2017
A 2011 HSVMA-RAVS wellness clinic at an Apache reservation in Arizona inspired Josephine Noah to explore her career change to veterinary medicine. While volunteering at the RAVS clinic, she saw how prevalent Rocky Mounty Spotted Fever was in the area, and how the fear of contracting the zoonotic disease was negatively affecting the relationship between the community and their dogs. “I witnessed how a simple thing like providing tick preventive medication had a profound impact on the connection between animals and their people, and thus greatly improved the welfare of these companion animals,” she said, “…This trip solidified my interest in veterinary medicine, and ignited my passion to serve the communities and animals most in need.”
Soon after the 2011 trip, she started volunteering with PAW Fund in the San Francisco Bay area. In the five years she’s been with the organization, she’s seen the health of pets improve in the communities they serve, as well as patients passing along the animal care and welfare education they’ve learned on to their neighbors. Even providing basic medical care makes a huge difference: “incessant itching or unhealthy skin can result in an animal being relegated to the back yard, or banned from a child's bed -- yet these issues can often be solved with relatively little expense, and can increase the animal's welfare not just physically, but emotionally, as the human-animal bond can be restored. Further, showing families that issues like these can be solved empowers them to be better animal guardians and to continue to pursue veterinary care as needed, to the best of their abilities,” Josephine shares.
In her role as the volunteer coordinator and technician supervisor for the monthly vaccine/wellness clinics, PAW Fund director/founder Jill Posener tells us Josephine has “developed a skilled and dedicated team of volunteers, and guides them not only in vaccinations techniques and protocols, but in compassionate communication, so that everyone in our team treats our clients and their companion animals with the respect that we ourselves would like to be treated with.”
After graduating next year, Josephine plans to join the PAW Fund as a part-time veterinarian, helping the organization expand their community outreach, medical services, and in-home euthanasias.