WCVM veterinary students Jude Morton (left) and Hayley Bowling (right). Photos: Christina Weese.

Veterinary students awarded for academic performance

Two veterinary students recently earned animal health scholarships for their academic performance at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM) on the University of Saskatchewan (USask) campus.

By Jessica Colby

Hayley Bowling, who will begin her third year at the WCVM in August, was one of 10 veterinary students and the only Canadian to receive an American Association of Swine Veterinarians Foundation (AASVF)-Merck Veterinary Student Scholarship earlier this year. Sponsored by Merck Animal Health, each award is worth US$5,000 (C$6,200).

Bowling, who is originally from Calgary, Alta., was in a surgery lab when she knew that the award was going to be announced online.

“I was definitely excited. The entire time I was doing my cadaver surgery I was stressing,” says Bowling.

Before attending the WCVM, she became interested in studying swine during a summer research experience at USask’s College of Agriculture and Bioresources.

“I got to do some swine welfare research with Dr. Jennifer Brown at the Prairie Swine Centre and so that kind of sparked my interest in them,” says Bowling. “I kept doing swine research for the next two summers and here we are.”

Bowling is a member of the American Association of Swine Veterinarians (AASV) and was eligible to apply for the award through the organization.

“It’s a nice way to get recognized for the area that I’m interested in,” says Bowling.

Bowling adds that after Merck sent out an awards announcement to their clients in Ontario, she began receiving phone calls and email messages from both swine and non-swine veterinarians.

“It’s nice to have my name out there and have some familiar faces when I get out of school into the industry,” says Bowling.

The scholarship program assists the foundation’s mission to support the development and scholarship of students and veterinarians interested in the swine industry. Second- and third-year students enrolled in American Veterinary Medical Association-accredited or recognized colleges of veterinary medicine in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, South America and the Caribbean Islands are eligible for the scholarship.

Jude Morton, a fourth-year student from Strathcona County in Alberta, received the Merck Animal Health Veterinary Student Innovation Award through the American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMF). She was one of 40 students in North American to receive the annual award, which was also presented to another 14 veterinary students in Southeast Asia.

The award — worth US$5,000 (C$6,200) — is designed to recognize graduating seniors at each veterinary school accredited through the American Veterinary Medical Association in the U.S. and Canada. Awards are given to students in good academic standing and have demonstrated innovation, entrepreneurship and creative forward-thinking in the development of a project or product that inspires others within the veterinary profession.

“I was blown away when they emailed me to say that I had got it,” says Morton. “I’m very appreciative because it’s going to make a huge difference this year just to be able to fund my way forward.”

Morton is a mature student who returned to school to complete a veterinary degree. Before joining the WCVM in 2018, she worked in cardiovascular research for 12 years.

“[Vet school] had always been an original intention of mine and then life sidetracked into other areas and so I revisited that,” says Morton. “My goal is to specialize in cardiology.”

Morton has continued to study vascular function in WCVM researcher Dr. Dylan Olver’s lab at the WCVM — the specific subject that was part of her work before she decided to come to veterinary school.

“I really hope that this does help me to realize those dreams of specializing and becoming a cardiologist,” says Morton. “Any help along the way is worth its weight in gold.”

Since 2012, Merck has provided over US$3 million (about C$3.7 million) to veterinary students through partnering with veterinary, educational and scientific organizations. The goal of the Merck scholarships is to provide veterinary students with the means to continue their schooling as well as to minimize some of their education-related debt.

Jessica Colby of Montmartre, Sask., is a fourth-year student in the University of Regina’s School of Journalism. She is working as a research communications intern at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM) for summer 2021.