Air National Guard Staff Sgt. Chris Gaudette is a can-do kind of guy. If he sees a problem, he doesn’t shake his head. He does something about it, especially if it involves helping others.
Thanks to invaluable help from the Michele M. and Ross M. Annable Scholarship Endowment, the member of the Class of 2021 at the NC State College of Veterinary Medicine is more driven than ever.
“The scholarship has been amazing,” Gaudette says. “It’s inspiring that someone would want to help us get through this. There’s no way I could do it without their help.”
The need-based scholarship — funded as part of a $5 million endowment by the Annables with a $5 million match from the R.B. Terry Charitable Foundation — covers up to half the cost of tuition and fees for DVM students at NC State. With a family to support, the financial demands of graduate school for Gaudette would have been even more overwhelming.
But the scholarship also encourages and requires commitment to serving the community — something that especially resonates with Gaudette. He grew up in the Phoenix area, but after moving with his family to Kanab, Utah, he volunteered for the first time at the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, which calls itself the largest no-kill shelter for companion animals.
It was also about that time that he began to develop a personal philosophy that he sums up with the phrase “do better, be better.” He developed a strong interest in animal welfare and was figuring out the direction he wanted to take with his life when the United States was attacked on Sept. 11, 2001. Gaudette joined the United States Air Force and served first as a trainer for special operations forces and was later deployed to the Middle East.
“It wasn’t to get revenge,” he’s quick to say. “It was to help protect the people who were already fighting.”
Today, Gaudette is a husband and father, with children aged 13, 14 and 15 — two girls and a boy. He served three years in Japan. And along the way he picked up a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Maryland, taking all the courses online while on active duty and graduating in 2012 with a 3.97 GPA. It was a degree that came in handy in his role as a victim advocate, providing emergency and follow-up support services to adult victims of domestic abuse, another of the duties he performed in the Air Force.
But there’s always a new challenge waiting for Gaudette. He was stationed at Pope Field (then Pope Air Force Base) in Cumberland County when he got serious about veterinary school. After picking up some undergraduate prerequisites at the NC State College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, he was admitted to the CVM in 2017.
Before coming to NC State he left active duty in the Air Force to join the Air National Guard with the intention of returning to active duty as a veterinarian. He hopes to specialize in poultry anatomic pathology, working on issues related to food security and public health.
The financial assistance with his education is helping his goal soon become reality. He has also maintained his passion for volunteering, helping with the spay and neuter program at the Wake County Animal Shelter and walking dogs.
He has also met Ross Annable and found the experience inspiring.
“I want to succeed so I can do what he does,” Gaudette says. “I want to be able help future generations so we can keep on passing forward what he has started.”
~Steve Volstad/NC State Veterinary Medicine