Announcing Our 2020 Compassionate Care Scholarship Recipients!

August 26, 2020

By Heather Schrader, RVT

Applicants for this year’s HSVMA Compassionate Care Scholarships have already proven their resilience and determination as future veterinary professionals.  As the coronavirus pandemic shut down in-person learning on campuses across the world, students continued to persevere and make the best out of a less than ideal situation. We had a record number of applicants this year and HSVMA is proud to assist this year’s recipients as they navigate uncharted territory in a One Health crisis never before seen in this century.  Thank you to our leadership who continues to donate their time and resources: Dr. Barry Kipperman, HSVMA Board President and California State Co-Representative, Dr. Gary Block, HSVMA Board member, Rhode Island State Representative and owner of Ocean State Veterinary Services in Greenwich, RI, and Dr. Carrie Waters, HSVMA Texas State Representative.  We are excited to recognize these students and the work they are already performing to advance animal welfare in the veterinary field.  

2020 Compassionate Care Scholarship Recipients

Benjamin Flakoll, 1st Place, Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, Class of 2021

Naomi Guzman, 2nd Place, University of Illinois Urbana Champaign College of Veterinary Medicine, Class of 2021

Sheree Deadrick, 3rd Place, Tuskegee University College of Veterinary Medicine, Class of 2021



Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, class of 2021

Benjamin’s relationship with horses and their welfare started at a very young age.  In his home country of Nicaragua, he saw the plight of work horses which was a startling contrast to the horses he valued as companions.  At eleven years of age, he started working as a translator for Rural Area Veterinary Services (RAVS), a program providing free veterinary services to horses owned by poor farmers in his country.  Over many years working with RAVS, not only did he begin assisting in medical care and farrier services, but he became convinced that the communication between the veterinarians and the local horse owners was key to bridging the gap he saw in education and humane treatment. Ben says that "working with vets in resource-challenged countries like Nicaragua is pivotal to improving animal welfare in a sustainable way."

As an undergraduate, Ben sought to further his interest in welfare by focusing on research to determine whether two commonly used methods of restraining a horse were humane.  He has published and presented his research in several forums.  In 2017, he became a professional farrier and works in the Ithaca area as such in addition to his studies in vet school.  He is also a student technician at Cornell’s large animal hospital.  Ultimately, Ben wants to use his veterinary degree to further equine welfare in this country and abroad and train veterinarians in his home country to improve the well-being of people and animals in Nicaragua.


NAOMI GUZMAN - 2nd Place

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign College of Veterinary Medicine, class of 2021

Growing up in a Mexican American household, Naomi was witness to conflicting ideals about the roles of companion animals in every-day life.  When visiting Mexico, she saw how poorly street animals were treated and was witness to acts which we would consider animal abuse in this country.  This experience sparked her interest in veterinary medicine and animal welfare.  Her professional goals include working in shelter medicine to provide community outreach and resources to impoverished areas.  As she wrote in her application, she feels that is her “duty to bridge the gap between these cultures by improving the ideals that surround animal welfare in minority communities.”

In veterinary school, Naomi has maintained her focus on providing services such as basic veterinary care and spay/neuter surgeries to communities with sparse resources.  She traveled to the island of Rhodes in Greece with shelter medicine veterinarians from the University of IL.  There they worked in the local animal shelter assessing patients and providing the necessary medical care.  She has also studied abroad with a spay/neuter program in Costa Rica, and she completed an externship at a non-profit clinic in Florida called TLC PetSnip where she helped perform HQHV spay/neuter surgeries for community cats.  Naomi also gained experience as a student researcher/enrichment coordinator for a study looking at a potential immunocontraceptive vaccine under the guidance of Alliance for Contraception in Cats and Dogs (ACC&D).



Tuskegee University College of Veterinary Medicine, class of 2021

Sheree’s dedication to access to care and its intrinsic link to the human-animal bond is evident in every activity she undertakes.  Whether is was through her volunteer work at the BARC Animal Shelter in Houston or at the Houston Zoo, she demonstrated her understanding of, and commitment to, the fact that outreach and education is vital to the welfare of all animals.  Sheree has also volunteered her time to provide community outreach for pets through the HSVMA sponsored Tuskegee Spay Day and both the annual Tuskegee Small Animal and Horse Health Fairs.  These events have helped strengthen the relationship between the historic Tuskegee veterinary school and the surrounding community, both of which have faced their share of social injustice and inequity. 

The depth of Sheree’s passion for preserving the bond between people and their pets led her to volunteer with programs that foster that bond by providing free basic veterinary care, spay/neuter services and client education.  She spent two weeks in South Dakota on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation with Rural Area Veterinary Services (RAVS).  Sheree also spent time in Ecuador with World Vets, an organization that provides veterinary care in remote communities.  Currently, she fosters animals from Lee County Rescue and volunteers at SpiritHorse, a riding center in Alabama which promotes the therapeutic bond between people with special needs and rescue horses.  It is clear that Sheree’s goal “to promote the fundamental rights for quality care of all animals regardless of the socioeconomic status of the owners” has already been met in all she has accomplished thus far. 


 Click here to read about last year's recipients of our Compassionate Care Scholarships

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