Annable Scholar Explores New Ways to Help Others

Some 20 years ago, a little girl growing up in Weston, a small town in south Florida, handed a paper to her teacher. That paper described, in a first-grader’s way, how she hoped to be a doctor for animals when she grew up.

That long-ago first-grader is Alex Grobman, currently a third-year veterinary student at the NC State College of Veterinary Medicine. After reconnecting with her former first-grade teacher through social media, Grobman learned that her teacher still has the paper that Grobman wrote about her dreams of becoming a vet.

Grobman stayed the course. She entered the CVM in 2018 and it was, she says, as challenging as she heard it would be. But she has gotten through it, despite having to work three jobs to keep her financial head above water.

Grobman is a veterinary assistant at the CVM’s large animal hospital and a student ambassador, taking prospective students on tours of the campus. She has also tutored undergraduate students. And she has done all this while staying active in the Student Chapter of the American Association of Equine Practitioners, which includes helping youthful novices learn the ins and outs of riding and caring for horses. 

It’s a rewarding, but demanding schedule.

Thankfully, the Annable Scholarship provided Grobman with a huge relief. In  2016, Ross and Michele Annable established an endowed scholarship bearing their name. It’s a need-based scholarship program — funded as part of the $5 million endowment by the Annables with a $5 million match from the R.B. Terry Charitable Foundation — covering up to half the cost of tuition and fees for CVM students. The scholarship encourages recipients to lend their time and talent to their communities, and to serve animals and animal owners with compassion. 

Considering her initial costs as an out-of-state student, the difference the Annable Scholarship would make was almost overwhelming to Grobman. 

“I was almost in tears when I heard that I got it,” she says. “It means fewer loans, less time having to work and more time to study. It means less worry over finances.”

At the CVM, Grobman has been able to focus a lot of her time on horses, an animal she has been hooked on since attending a summer horse camp when she was 5. Now, she’s the president of the equine club at the CVM and boasts a resume filled with a growing list of both personal and professional work with horses and the people who care about them. 

Through club activities, she has been involved with Horseman’s Youth Day, teaching children from the ages of 6 to 17 the basics of owning and caring for horses, including the role of veterinary medicine in that process. She also volunteers to help out each year with the Equine Health Symposium, an annual continuing education event offered by the CVM.

I was almost in tears when I heard that I got [the Annable Scholarship]. It means fewer loans, less time having to work and more time to study. It means less worry over finances. 

With more time to explore her professional options, Grobman has found several possibilities. She says she’d like to aim for an internship or a residency in equine medicine. While she’s certain she wants to go into equine practice, she’s still exploring her options regarding a specialty, including orthopedics, internal medicine and soft tissue surgery. 

Grobman recently accepted an invitation to become part of an entrepreneurial initiative called Vetletics started by classmate Irina Perdew from the class of 2021. The idea was born when Perdew learned that a device used in human medicine called a pneumatic compression device was not available, but was needed, in veterinary medicine. The device prevents blood clots from forming in the deep veins in the legs. Vetletics aims to develop this and other therapeutic devices for veterinary use. 

Grobman is the  veterinary and communications intern for Vetletics, responsible for connecting with clients, learning about equine athletic needs and helping to develop the device for therapeutic use.

Having the time to explore the rich variety of experiences available to veterinary students like  Grobman are made possible by scholarships like the ones provided by the Annables. 

“I want the Annables to know how important these scholarships are, and how grateful we all are for them,” Grobman says. “Stress is a big thing you have to deal with in vet school. The greatest gift you can give is to relieve that stress and to help students feel more secure.”

~Steve Volstad/NC State Veterinary Medicine