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Annable Scholar Committed to Serving Others

If you don’t believe that hard work and a positive attitude pay off, you haven’t met Kate Thompson, a member of the NC State College of Veterinary Medicine’s Class of 2019.

For her commitment to service, Thompson is receiving the Michele M. and Ross M. Annable Scholarship. The Annables established the scholarship endowment in 2016, which covers up to half the cost of tuition and fees for doctor of veterinary medicine candidates.

The need-based scholarship encourages recipients to lend their time and talent to their communities and to serve animals and animal owners with compassion. That description perfectly fits Thompson, who has a passion for volunteering and for the health and well-being of rescue animals. Her ultimate goal is to have a practice involved with animal behavior and shelter medicine.

Describing the scholarship as life-changing, Thompson revealed that she cried when she learned that she had been selected, adding that she got the news on her birthday. Initially admitted as an out-of-state student with an undergraduate degree from Mississippi State University, Thompson has worked as many as four jobs in addition to keeping up with her demanding studies and volunteering with various student organizations.

The scholarship considerably alleviates financial stress, allowing Thompson to focus more on academic work and student service organizations. Since she has done everything from working in animal shelters to tutoring high school math students to pet-sitting, the scholarship will provide a welcome respite from juggling so many responsibilities and accruing additional student loan debt.

That leaves more time for Thompson to do what she really came to NC State to do. Last year she was president of the campus chapter of the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior, which deals with the treatment of behavior problems in companion animals, including anxiety disorders and compulsive behaviors. Knowledge of animal behavior is especially important for decreasing animal shelter populations and increasing adoption numbers, both of which are near and dear to Thompson’s heart.

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In the upcoming academic year she will serve as co-president of the Companion Animal Wellness Club which, among other things, stages the popular annual Dog Olympics event on the CVM campus. The event raises funds for local animal shelters.

Thompson is quick to point out that NC State was always where she wanted to attend veterinary school. Even after being admitted to Cornell University, Thompson held out for admission to NC State, her top choice.

She is especially grateful for the Annable Scholarship putting such emphasis on community service. Many scholarships have very specific criteria, such as area of medical specialization and geographic location, which narrows the list of available opportunities. So the Annable Scholarship was a welcome alternative for someone as focused on service as Thompson.

The Annables decided to invest in CVM students following their own experience at the Veterinary Hospital

The Annables’ beloved German shepherd, Jordan, was saved from the crippling effects of hip dysplasia through a complex surgical procedure.

Wanting to do what they could to help assure that others would have access to the same exceptional quality of veterinary care in the future, the Annables established the scholarship that bears their name with an endowment of $5 million. That was matched with another $5 million from the Randall B. Terry Charitable Foundation, creating an extraordinary $10 million endowment fund.

The Michele M. and Ross M. Annable Scholarship Endowment is a need-based scholarship program that covers up to half the cost of tuition and fees for doctor of veterinary medicine candidates. The scholarship encourages recipients to lend their time and talent to their communities and to serve animals and animal owners with compassion.

Once the scholarship selection committee read Thompson’s application, filled with a litany of service initiatives and achievements from her days at Mississippi State, where she majored in biochemistry, up through her current activities at NC State, they knew they had found a perfect candidate.

For example, last year, she arranged for renowned animal behavior expert Temple Grandin to come to campus to deliver a lecture. Beyond that, having had experience with autism in her own family, she asked Grandin, herself on the autism spectrum, to give a second lecture on the topic of autistic minds. Thompson’s uncle and her cousin, Ross, who is also on the autism spectrum, flew to Raleigh from Texas to attend the presentation. In her scholarship application, Thompson wrote eloquently of the experience.

“Towards the end of her talk, Ross leaned over and whispered, ‘She’s the smartest girl in the world.’ Such simple words, but from Ross they meant everything to me. After the lecture, I ushered my uncle and cousin over to meet Temple, who spoke intimately with them about Ross’ future. During Dr. Grandin’s book signing, I listened as many other autistic students like Ross told Temple how she had impacted their lives. One young girl whispered to Dr. Grandin, ‘You make me proud to be me.’

“Watching the impact this event had on people’s lives was incredibly meaningful. Most of my previous community service focused on improving animal welfare: donation drives, adopt-a-thons, etc. Ross showed me how animal-centered community service can improve human welfare. I am already brainstorming new ways to connect my passion for animals with my desire to better people’s lives.”

~Steve Volstad/NC State Veterinary Medicine