New scholarships handed out by Merck, AVMF

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American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMF) logoMerck Animal Health logo

Merck Animal Health, in partnership with the American Veterinary Medical Foundation, announced June 22 the winners of the inaugural Veterinary Student Innovation Awards.

Shannon Gildersleeve
Shannon Gildersleeve, who recently graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine, was one of 28 recipients of the inaugural Veterinary Student Innovation Awards, given by Merck Animal Health and the American Veterinary Medical Foundation. (Courtesy of the AVMF)

This new award is designed to recognize graduating seniors at each AVMA Council on Education–accredited veterinary college in the U.S. and Canada. Twenty-eight awards of $500 each were given to students who have demonstrated innovation, entrepreneurship, and creative forward thinking in the development of a project or product that inspires others within the veterinary profession.

"We are pleased to recognize and support these outstanding veterinary students," said Dr. Jan K. Strother, chair of the AVMF board of directors, in a Foundation press release. "Not only have these students displayed entrepreneurial spirit, initiative, and creativity, but they are also making a positive difference in their communities and in our veterinary profession."

The award recipients are as follows:

  • Carolyn Benedetto, Louisiana State University, for her work in looking at student wellness and the factors influencing student wellness at LSU.
  • Amanda Carlson, Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, for assisting in the creation of the Beasts, Unburdened blog that publishes student-authored articles tackling multiple aspects of mental health.
  • Meredith Chamberlain, University of Prince Edward Island, for being a founding member of the Atlantic Veterinary Business Society on campus.
  • Caitlin Conner, Texas A&M University, for applying innovation and entrepreneurship techniques to bring the Voyce dog monitor to members of the campus community.
  • Akaterina Davros, Kansas State University, for her innovative ideas to promote student wellness and well-being.
  • Matthew Robert DiFazio, Cornell University, for leading the team that won the grand prize in the first Cornell Animal Health Hackathon.
  • Wendy Evans, University of Missouri, for co-founding House Collars Veterinary Nursing, which offers in-home appointments with a veterinary technician.
  • Anika Farina, Tufts University, for co-founding the student group Cummings Thrive, a student-led initiative to enhance student well-being and leadership.
  • Shannon Finn, University of Guelph, for creating the student club Teaching Healthy Resilience.
  • Maryanne Miko Flasik, Colorado State University, for developing the first CSU chapter of Veterinary Students as One in Culture and Ethnicity.
  • Mackenzie Gallegos, Michigan State University, for starting the Barn Cat Project, which addresses feline overpopulation in rural Michigan.
  • Nicolas Gendron-Parra, University of Montreal, for initiating a mentoring project between experienced and graduating veterinarians.
  • Shannon Gildersleeve, University of Wisconsin-Madison, for her leadership in advancing the priority of student wellness on campus.
  • John Griffeon, North Carolina State University, for developing student wellness initiatives and implementation of a system to group students into houses at NCSU.
  • Courtney Griffin, Mississippi State University, for starting the Vets for Vets program, which provides rehabilitation care for retired military and police dogs.
  • Nicholas Hall, Washington State University, for helping develop a surgical assistance device that uses the Venturi effect to make colon evacuation more efficient and complete for horses.
  • Lindsey Knox, University of Minnesota, for creating two student organizations to focus efforts toward health and wellness as well as academic success.
  • Laura MacIntyre, Oregon State University, for founding the Veterinary Public Health and Policy Club at the veterinary college.
  • Max Manse, University of California-Davis, for being active with UC-Davis' Veterinary Business Management Association chapter.
  • Kayla Mehan, Lincoln Memorial University, for partnering with others to create LMU's Shelter Medicine Club during her first year.
  • Samantha Morici, Auburn University, for launching Auburn's first International Veterinary Students' Association chapter.
  • Kara Negrini, Purdue University, for her role in transforming the Purdue Veterinary Supply Association bookstore into the Vet Shoppe.
  • Dustin Ong, Western University of Health Sciences, for creating standard operating procedures for officers of student clubs to assist them in the ability to lead their clubs and to fundraise.
  • Ruben Pabon Padin, The Ohio State University, for planning and executing programming for Veterinary Students as One in Culture and Ethnicity at OSU.
  • Chelsea Ruston, Iowa State University, for helping plan and implement a series of webcasts for veterinary students relating to swine medicine.
  • Rayeann Solano, Midwestern University, for establishing a partnership with the Office of the La Paz County Sheriff to promote wellness for its canine officers and a partnership with the Colorado River Indian Tribes and the Parker Indian Health Council to address pet wellness and tribal health disparities.
  • Richard Blaine Sparks, University of Tennessee, for entrepreneurial activities in radiopharmaceutical delivery and monitoring.
  • Suzanne Wilson, University of Illinois, for creating the Instagram account "Ready.Vet.Go."