Simon George, third-year veterinary student at Colorado State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, was one of only 27 students throughout the nation awarded the Western State’s Veterinary Conference Student Scholarship last month. In addition to receiving a $2,500 scholarship, each student was awarded a stipend to attend the 74th Annual Jack Mara Western Veterinary Conference Feb. 11-14 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
George is a resident of Black Forest, Colo., where his family has raised dairy goats for more than 24 years. At an early age, his parents encouraged him to participate in the 4-H program, and that’s when he first became interested in pursuing a career in veterinary medicine.
"I grew up around animals and have always felt comfortable with them thanks to the family business," George said. "In 4-H, I learned a lot about good leadership and good communication in addition to animal husbandry skills. Somehow, all these skills just seemed to come together, and I decided to pursue veterinary medicine. It just seemed to be a natural route to take."
Jack Walther, a veterinarian and scholarship chairman for the Western Veterinary Conference, noted that the WVC scholarship was created to help offset student debt and, by arranging for students to attend the conference and meet leaders in the profession, to encourage them to become involved in improving the profession of veterinary medicine as a whole.
"Student debt load is staggering," said Walther. "At the same time, students need to be introduced to organized veterinary medicine in order to become involved. The Western Veterinary Conference is providing this scholarship and stipend as a way of addressing both issues and giving back to the profession."
George said he is grateful for the scholarship and felt the experience he gained by attending the conference was valuable. He added that the conference was a wonderful opportunity to meet future colleagues, learn about areas of research and current issues in veterinary medicine and to find out about professional opportunities he didn’t know existed.
George is the first veterinarian in his family and plans to pursue a mixed large and small animal practice with a specialization in small ruminants after graduating in 2003.