College of Veterinary Medicine

Development & External Relations

Your Gifts Tell the Story

Behind every gift to WSU's College of Veterinary Medicine is a story. The detection of a new disease helps save lives. A scholarship makes veterinary or graduate school more affordable. A beloved animal's life is saved from cancer. From everyone at the college, you have our sincere gratitude for your generous support.

Gifts in Action 2012

Billy Hansen and Family

(left to right) Charlie (3), Laurel,
Hank (5), Billy, and Ike (6 months).

Giving Back Just a Little Makes a Big Difference in a Student's Life

As a non-traditional student with a wife and three kids to support, Billy Hansen ('14 DVM) has a lot on his plate. Because of the skyrocketing costs of a veterinary education, Billy, like so many of his classmates, relies almost entirely on student loans to pay for school. So when he received the $750 Dr. Aaron and Laura Gibbons Family "Giving Back" Scholarship it meant a lot.

"It was a small amount compared to my student loans, but it made the burden of the semester lighter," said Hansen. "I didn't have to worry so much about finances and that helped me concentrate on school and my studies."

Before coming to WSU in 2010, Billy, who is originally from rural Utah, attended the University of Utah as a business major after serving a mission in Brazil. But during his last year he decided it was veterinary medicine, not business, that was his calling. He and his wife moved to Logan and he finished a bio-veterinary sciences degree at Utah State.

During Billy's first year as a WSU veterinary student he met Aaron Gibbons ('11 DVM), then in his fourth year of veterinary school and also a non-traditional student.

"We had a lot in common," said Hansen. So it felt like a bit of kismet when he was awarded the Dr. Aaron and Laura Gibbons Family "Giving Back" Scholarship.

"It was really thoughtful the Gibbons provided this scholarship," said Hansen. "I am grateful that I got it."

Aaron Gibbons
Aaron Gibbons and his wife Laura

After he graduates in 2014, Billy and his family plan to move back to Utah where he hopes to find a position at a mixed-animal, private practice. Ultimately, he has even bigger career aspirations.

"My goal is to one day buy into my own practice," he said.

Aaron Gibbons ('11 DVM and SAVMA president 2011) and his family know first-hand how expensive it is to earn a veterinary degree. Tuition since 1996 has nearly tripled and in-state students now pay more than $22,000 a year. Just one year after he graduated, Aaron and his wife Laura gave $750 to establish the Dr. Aaron and Laura Gibbons Family "Giving Back" Scholarship to help a current student. Student scholarships can help defray some of the costs of education putting our students in a more competitive position as they start their careers.

Ophthalmology Table

Dr. Terri Alessio, WSU veterinary
ophthalmology specialist (right),
with Marie Crossley, LVT (left),
and "Daisy."

Donor Gifts Help Purchase a Needed Ophthalmology Table

Small gifts can add up to make a big difference. In 2009, Dr. Terri Alessio, WSU veterinary ophthalmology specialist, received a new height-adjustable examination table that has helped hundreds of her patients that she can now easily bring to eye level.

"It really helps for patient comfort," said Dr. Alessio. "We can adjust the table to where the animal feels most comfortable."

Before the ophthalmology group received the height-adjustable table, geriatric patients had to be lifted onto the table. Now the table can be lowered so that older patients can step on and then it is raised to just the right height. It can also be raised for smaller dogs and cats or lowered for big dogs.

"If a large dog feels like standing, the table can be lowered rather than asking the dog to lie down," said Dr. Alessio.

Donations from many friends of the college made this purchase possible.

"When people make general donations to the college, we put the money in a fund that can be used for just these types of needs," said Lynne Haley, director of development for the college. "People sometimes think a small gift doesn't do much, but those gifts add up and can have a big impact."

When she can, Dr. Alessio takes the height-adjustable table to the surgery room with her. But she hopes to someday have a second table.

"Our patients are more comfortable and relaxed," said Dr. Alessio. "It has made an incredible difference."

Katherine Rempe
Katherine Rempe
('10 Microbiology)
is currently a Ph.D student in
molecular geneticsand
microbiology at Duke University

Pat Youngman

Pat Youngman, '43
BS in Bacteriology & Public Health

A Gift to Last

Every year for 6 years, Pat Youngman ('43 BS in Bacteriology and Public Health) did something that has helped hundreds of WSU students. She provided enough support for the now School of Molecular Biosciences to purchase one Leica microscope each year.

"The microscopes made all the things we read in text books or hear in lecture become real," said Katherine Rempe ('10 Microbiology), who is currently a Ph.D student in molecular genetics and microbiology at Duke University. "We could see how bacteria move and behave differently."

Originally, Katherine thought she'd pursue a degree in pharmacy, but she fell in love with microbiology.

"I enjoy research because of the problem solving involved and the fact that you never do exactly the same thing two days in a row," said Rempe. As a Ph.D. student she studies a bacterium (Haemophilus influenzae) that is a leading cause of ear infections in children.

"Washington State University provided me many opportunities that have shaped who I am now," said Rempe. "I was able to be involved in research, which opened up a new career for me."

Pat Youngman's microscopes have made a difference for countless students like Katherine in classes such as Introductory Microbiology, General Microbiology Laboratory, Diagnostic Bacteriology Laboratory, and Combined Immunology and Virology Laboratory. The microscopes are also used for pre-college outreach activities like WSU Cougar Quest.

Pat Youngman passed away in 2010. Although most students will never realize how much they benefitted from her generosity, her legacy lives on in the lives she has touched.

Kevin Choy

(center) Dr. Kevin Choy working
with one of the cancer patients
in the pilot study.

WSU Oncology Resident Awarded the Paul and Lynnea Thibodaux Oncology Resident Research Fund in Veterinary Medicine

While working in a private clinic in Melbourne, Australia, Canadian-born veterinarian Dr. Kevin Choy of Vancouver, British Columbia, saw a lot of elderly patients and he noticed something. Although veterinary medicine was capable of managing many chronic illnesses, cancer was not one of them.

"We are getting better at managing other chronic diseases in animals such as heart disease and diabetes that would normally have been associated with a grave prognosis, but cancer is one of the few medical fields that we are learning more about every day" said Dr. Choy, an oncology resident at WSU's Veterinary Teaching Hospital.

So he decided to learn more about cancer treatment and left private practice to continue specialized training and devote his career to helping animal patients with the hope that some of the knowledge could be useful for human cancers.

With such a commitment to cancer care and research, it was little surprise that Dr. Choy received this year's Paul and Lynnea Thibodaux Oncology Resident Research Fund in Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Choy plans to use the awarded funds to treat more patients in a pilot study between WSU and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.

"The awarded money will allow us to enroll more patients in the study," explained Dr. Choy. And that could help save lives by generating more consistent and reliable data. Past studies that have grown and tested cancer cells in a laboratory have not always provided useful, consistent result for treating patients.

In the pilot study, Dr. Choy and his fellow researchers are looking at lymphoma in dogs to see what types of chemotherapy are the most successful in killing cancer cells in individual patients. Lymphoma is currently the most commonly diagnosed immune cancer often affecting breeds such as Golden Retrievers, Boxers, and German Shepherds. The goal of the study is to one day develop a method that will individualize chemotherapy treatments with greater success and fewer side effects.

"If cells are dying, then we know a particular drug is working," said Dr. Choy. "We hope to develop a method to allow veterinarians to better select the appropriate therapy that minimizes side effects and is effective so that we do not needlessly administer cancer medications to patients without benefit."

Though the research conducted at WSU will be piloted in animals first, the hope is that the results may lead to better treatments for resistant tumors in humans as well.

"We all know pets and people that have been touched by cancer," said Dr. Choy. "I want to help animals and ultimately contribute to improving cancer treatment in people as well."

Paul and Lynnea Thibodaux started the Paul and Lynnea Thibodaux Oncology Resident Research Fund in Veterinary Medicine to give deserving students a chance for a great education that would give them a successful career in veterinary medicine. The Thibodauxes came to WSU in 2006 when their blue merle Australian Shepherd named Doc (a.k.a. Dr. Schnaut von Heineyshniffen) was diagnosed with a brain tumor at age 5. After 18 radiation treatments, the meningioma went into remission, but four years later the tumor returned. Doc was brought back to WSU for radiation treatment. The Thibodauxes said WSU was wonderful to Doc and the veterinarians continue to follow up on his status. They are forever grateful for the additional time WSU gave them with Doc.

Last Edited: Jan 29, 2013 3:33 PM   

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