A Helping Hand for Underdogs

Stacey Snyder has a soft spot for those facing challenges, whether they walk on two legs or four. That’s why she has spent more than 20 years as a volunteer for animal shelters and nonprofit rescue organizations, primarily the Carolina Basset Hound Rescue. 

And it’s why she decided to endow a scholarship at the NC State College of Veterinary Medicine designed to help students who have faced some challenges in life to pursue their dreams — especially if their dreams include serving the needs of rescue animals.

The Robert Snyder, Cheryl Sumrell Snyder, and Stacey Snyder Scholarship Endowment will channel the family’s estate to the scholarship fund. Robert and Cheryl are Stacey’s late father and mother.

“I want to empower veterinary students to follow their passions,” the Durham resident said. “Especially students who have had to overcome some obstacles and are really motivated to realize their dreams.”

After earning an undergraduate degree in biology from NC State in 1995, she worked for the next 10 years at Duke University, first as a technician involved with cancer research, then as a research analyst.

Driven to do more and drawn by her love of animals, she returned to NC State, this time at the CVM, first as a graduate research assistant and then as a postdoctoral fellow, earning a PhD in cancer biology along the way. Today, she works as a medical writer for a consulting firm that provides support for pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies on such projects as clinical studies reports, regulatory documents, and a host of other technical-scientific assignments. But her love for animals remains as strong as ever.

I had always wanted to be a veterinarian,” Snyder wrote about her reasons for establishing the scholarship. “For many reasons, that did not happen. However, even more than wanting to be a veterinarian, I wanted to make the world a better and safer place for animals, especially companion animals who find themselves without a human family.”  

What also prompted her to launch the scholarship was a sudden realization that came to her as she and her mother were traveling to Australia. While on the plane, it occurred to her that if anything unfortunate should happen to her and her mom, there was no plan in place for what would become of their assets. 

That fear is what woke me up at 4 a.m. to create a handwritten will,” she says. That led to her endowment. 

The scholarship would cover the full costs of tuition and fees for the recipient for a full academic year. Recipients would also be eligible to apply for the scholarship again in future years.

My goal with this scholarship is to allow a student to become a veterinarian with as little debt as possible,” Snyder wrote. “I envision having less debt will allow for a lifelong contribution to the improvement of life for animals who are particularly vulnerable.”

At the formal signing of the papers creating the scholarship endowment, Snyder was joined by her mother and by Rhonda Sutton, a close friend and former adviser from her years as an NC State student. Snyder credits Sutton with being her anchor during her journey through graduate school.

When the signatures were completed there were quiet conversations and even a few tears. Then Cheryl Snyder smiled at her daughter and said, “Daddy is looking down. He’s so proud.”

~Steve Volstad, NC State Veterinary Medicine