Ask Sarah Scott-Cruz how she likes to spend her free time, and she’ll talk about backpacking, rock climbing and tree climbing.
Scott-Cruz, a member of the class of 2023 at the NC State College of Veterinary Medicine, is an avid outdoors person. It comes from growing up in Hendersonville, N.C., a stone’s throw from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
The interest in tree climbing came from when she was studying animal science at Cornell University. There were no nearby mountains, but there was a forest, and tree climbing turned out to be the next best thing to rock climbing.
She ended up not just climbing trees, but teaching the proper technique to others. Scott-Cruz is someone who makes the most of her opportunities.
One of those opportunities is helping her reach her childhood dream of becoming a veterinarian. Scott-Cruz is one of the recipients of a Michele M. and Ross M. Annable Scholarship. The scholarship is funded by a $5 million endowment from the Annables matched by $5 million from the R. B. Terry Charitable Foundation. The need-based scholarship covers up to half of a DVM student’s tuition and fees.
“I love the culture here,” she says of the CVM. “They pay attention to total wellness and mental health. It’s more sustainable.”
Sustainability is important to Scott-Cruz. She has a passion for animals — from pets to wildlife — and that means preserving their natural habitats.
It’s all related to her love of the outdoors. Growing up, her family, especially her mom, loved camping and backpacking. It was her mother who signed Scott-Cruz up for her first rock climbing course in high school. Today, Scott-Cruz volunteers as a trail service guide, leading groups of students on hiking trips during college orientation.
The combination of loving animals, the environment and coming from a medical family — both of her parents are doctors — made becoming a veterinarian the natural thing to do.
“I don’t remember it, but I’m told I wanted to be a vet since I was 3 years old,” she says. “I do remember that by the time I was 6 that’s what I wanted.”
Receiving the Annable Scholarship has brought that goal much closer to reality.
After graduation, Scott-Cruz hopes that whatever kind of veterinary practice she enters will include the opportunity to treat wildlife. Her focus area at the CVM is zoological medicine. She is aiming for a career as a wildlife veterinarian working in conservation medicine.
Whatever her future holds, Scott-Cruz is grateful for the opportunities the Annable Scholarship creates. “It makes such a big difference to know that there are those who want to help,” she says.
~Steve Volstad/NC State Veterinary Medicine
Photography for this story was taken prior to enhanced COVID-19 safety and mask protocol established for CVM faculty, staff and students, as well as the general public. The latest information on our protocol can be found here: https://cvm.ncsu.edu/