2019 Compassionate Care Scholarship Recipients Inspire!

September 3, 2019

By Heather Schrader, RVT

This year's HSVMA Compassionate Care Scholarship applicants did not fail to inspire with their fortitude and their achievements. Due to ongoing support from our leadership - Dr. Barry Kipperman, HSVMA Board President and California State Co-Representative, Dr. Gary Block, HSVMA Board member, RI State Representative and owner of Ocean State Veterinary Services in Greenwich, RI, Dr. Paula Kislak, HSVMA Board member and California State Co-Representative and Dr. Carrie Waters, HSVMA Texas State Representative - we are proud to be able to award these outstanding students and recognize all they are doing to advance animal welfare in the veterinary field.  

2019 Compassionate Care Recipients:

Caitlyn Rize, 1st Place, University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine, Class of 2021

Farida (Faye) Varias, 2nd Place, Western University College of Veterinary Medicine, Class of 2021

Abbie Knudsen, 3rd Place (tie), University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine, Class of 2022

Ron Orchard, 3rd Place (tie), Kansas State College of Veterinary Medicine, Class of 2022


CAITLYN RIZE - 1st Place

University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine, class of 2021

Caitlyn's original career goal was social work.  Although she could not have predicted her career switch to veterinary medicine, she says she has "found that merging social work and veterinary medicine inherently enhances animal welfare through promotion of the human-animal bond."  She intends to use her veterinary training to help provide access to affordable veterinary care along with other social services needed by pet owners.  In line with these ideals, Caitlyn currently serves as the co-president of the student organization Veterinary Treatment Outreach for Urban Community Health (VeTouch).  VeTouch holds no-cost clinics every month for low income citizens of the Twin Cities area.  These clinics also provide veterinary students first-hand experience with basic vet care skills.  Caitlyn used her social services savvy to collaborate with social work students so that pet owners can obtain other services at the monthly clinics, as well.  In order to keep track of all these available services, Caitlyn led the purchase and implementation of record-keeping software.  She also helped present the VeTouch clinic model at the Society of Student Run Free Clinics annual conference.

In addition to her work with the free clinic, Caitlyn also works as a veterinary technician at Midwest Animal Rescue and Services (MARS), a rescue organization that also provides low-cost veterinary care at its non-profit clinic.  Her extensive work with low-cost vet clinics has strengthened her desire to work with pets and owners in need and help combat overpopulation issues.  She admits that she has big dreams.  "Ultimately, my goal is to work with community members in Detroit, Michigan to mitigate the population of homeless animals while also providing services to marginalized community members through the creation of a non-profit," she says.  The economic disparity she has seen in the Detroit/Grosse Pointe area of Michigan has fueled her to come up with a business model that would help both communities.  Her ideas include having a clinic and doggy day-care that would fund programs such those where prisoners train shelter dogs before adoption.  Advocating for pets to be allowed in homeless and domestic violence shelters is another piece of Caitlyn's plan.  We commend Caitlyn for the incredible work she's done so far during her veterinary education.  Her endeavors epitomize compassionate care.



Western University of Health Sciences College of Veterinary Medicine, class of 2021

Faye also started her working life in a different field before attending veterinary school.  Although a successful journalist and writer, her volunteer work at Guam Animals In Need (GAIN), the island's only animal shelter, awakened a sense of passion for animals in need and she knew she could do more for them.  Faye joined the staff of GAIN and started working with local organizations to expose herself to veterinary opportunities.  She became a Team Leader with the Haggan Watch Sea Turtle Recovery Program, volunteered  as the Chairwoman for the American Cancer Society's Bark for Life on Guam, which honors the canine companions of cancer patients, and was Founding Chairwoman for Project Dog Park Guam. 

Ultimately, Faye became a surgery technician at GAIN and became involved with Humane Society International's efforts to bring a low-cost spay/neuter clinic to the island.  She also volunteered with World Vets in Ecuador where the team provided spay/neuter services to a community in need.  All of these activities (and more!) inspired Faye to develop her Guam Spaycation project.  The pilot program, which she launched this summer, brought vets and veterinary students to the island to perform spay/neuter services and allowed the students to gain hands-on experience in this type of setting.  After she graduates from veterinary school, Faye intends to participate in a shelter medicine internship and residency program and ultimately receive her board certification in shelter medicine.  Of course, her career goals include expanding her Spaycation project on Guam to provide low-cost vet care to areas of the Pacific that are in need.  


ABBIE KNUDSEN - 3rd Place (tie)

University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine, class of 2022

Abbie's commitment to animal welfare started when she was an undergraduate.  She completed an internship at National Tiger Sanctuary (NTS), a non-profit in Missouri that provides refuge to exotic and domestic animals and education about conservation.  After graduation, she was hired as staff and her subsequent dedication and hard work led to her ultimately becoming the Executive Director at NTS.  Outside of her job there, Abbie was also an active District Leader for the Humane Society of the United States.  This volunteer position involves grassroots work with legislative advocacy.  She applied these skills to her work at NTS and furthered the sanctuary's mission to include animal advocacy at the legislative level.  It also led her to work with other organizations to help develop the first Big Cat Sanctuary Alliance in this country.  This alliance works on issues affecting big cats such as the exotic pet trade, advancing standards of care, and big cats used for entertainment.  Abbie also became a licensed wildlife rehabilitator so she can care for injured or orphaned wildlife until they are ready for release back into the wild.  

As a veterinary student, Abbie has taken on the challenge of organizing the first Midwest Animal Sheltering Conference to be held in October of 2019.  This will be the first conference in this region designed for animal shelters and rescues.  Abbie says, "the conference will enable sheltering organizations to learn cutting-edge lifesaving strategies and form vital partnerships with other community organizations – both of which will help elevate the impact of animal rescue facilities and save more animals in the Midwest."  In addition to being busy with this task, she also serves as the HSVMA student representative at University of Missouri CVM.  After graduation she looks forward to continuing her advocacy work and would like to found a coalition comprised of Missouri's animal sheltering organizations to facilitate collaboration across the state.


RON ORCHARD - 3rd Place (tie)

Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine, class of 2022

Ron has been involved in shelter medicine for many years, first as Veterinary Services Supervisor at Denver Dumb Friends League where he managed an animal hospital which performed an average of 10,000 surgeries per year.  Ron is a licensed Veterinary Technician and has also worked in this role at Seattle Humane and as the Shelter Medicine Manager at Oregon Humane Society.  It is because of this extensive background that he was hired to help set up the Shelter Medicine Program at the Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine.  Dr. R. Bradley Crauer, Assistant Clinical Professor of Shelter Medicine at KSU says, "Over the last four years, (Ron) has been instrumental in the successful roll out of a service based mobile surgery unit teaching fourth year students about all aspects of veterinary shelter medicine.  This course is consistently rated highest by students and has received multiple awards for community impact.  Much of the programs accolades are due directly to Ronald Orchard's involvement." 

In addition to maintaining his employment within the shelter medicine program, he gained admittance to veterinary school and also organized the first Shelter Medicine Symposium at KSU.  Ron is also pursuing a Masters in Public Health so he can focus on One Health clinics.  He says he plans to "contribute to the research looking at the long term health benefits for both humans and animals entering these clinics, with the goal of creating a more robust pool of study."  His goals after graduation also include either running a program similar to the one he helped establish at KSU, or working at a shelter with limited resources in order to help them increase their level of animal care.  Somehow Ron also finds the time to give back to the community by volunteering with organizations such as 'This is How We Role,' a student chapter at the KSU CVM that provides biology lessons for low-income elementary children.


Click here to read about last year's winners of the Compassionate Care Scholarship.


The 2020 HSVMA Compassionate Care Scholarship application will be available next year. Contact [email protected] with any questions about the program.