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Chayah Memorial Scholarship Recognizes Dedication and Compassion

In 2004, Tina Angelichio was waiting in her veterinarian’s office with her 7-year-old mastiff mix, Max, when someone brought in two tiny puppies.

They had been attacked by an older dog. One had a punctured lung and one had a nearly severed leg. The discussion she overheard focused on euthanizing both dogs.

That was too much for Tina and she leapt into action. Her spontaneous offer to take the puppies was the beginning of an inspiring story. As she explains, “the following day was long in trying to save the pups.  Unfortunately, one could not be saved and was humanely put down. Although I did not name her then, had she survived her name would be Vita, which means ‘Life’ in Latin. The remaining sister pup survived and her prognosis was good. I named her Chayah, meaning ‘Life’ in Hebrew.”

Chayah ended up becoming an integral — and intimate — part of Angelichio’s life. She was deeply touched by Chayah’s courage and fighting spirit, and by the dedicated veterinary professionals who fought alongside her to help preserve her life. Chayah made the most of every moment given to her.

Tina Angelichio with Chayah.

“From that day forward, my life would never be the same,” Angelichio says. “We battled torn tendons and ligaments, bad hips, severe arthritis, melanoma, IBD and SARDS. I was blessed to have 12 years with this sweet girl.  To say she ultimately rescued me would be an understatement.” During this trying period, Angelichio appreciated the compassionate care given to her companion by the dedicated veterinary medical professionals at NC State. In fact, Angelichio describes them as “radically generous” in spirit, and it’s in that spirit that she wants to “give back and pay it forward.”

When Chayah died in 2016, Angelichio was determined to memorialize her dog in a way that would improve the lives of others. That is how the scholarship bearing Chayah’s name came to be at the NC State College of Veterinary Medicine. “This Chayah Memorial Scholarship celebrates and acknowledges a life well lived and a life that can lead, inspire, teach, protect and help those that are unable to help themselves,” she says.

Angelichio’s journey with NC State began in 2012 when she lost a beloved boxer to hemangiosarcoma. Though the dog was not treated at NC State, she reached out to Matthew Breen, CVM professor of genomics and the Oscar J. Fletcher Distinguished Professor of Comparative Oncology Genetics, who responded with compassion and valuable information that sparked a relationship that would pave the way for future communication and support.

The scholarship is designed for fourth-year students with a minimum 3.8 GPA who have a commitment to animal rescue or shelter medicine. It fully funds the final year of veterinary school.

“The difference between a good veterinarian and a great veterinarian is that it’s not just about the science, but the art of giving,” Angelichio said. “It’s about who will go above and beyond to give back to the community with compassion and generosity. By creating this scholarship, I feel like in my small way I can add to the quality of veterinary care in North Carolina.”

Abby Crownshaw, the first recipient of the scholarship, didn’t set out to become a veterinarian as an undergraduate. Majoring in biology and psychology, she thought she might become a psychiatrist. A troublesome chemistry class became an issue, and it took her three tries to get accepted into the CVM. It probably was a blessing in disguise, she says. During the years of waiting to get in Crownshaw worked at an animal shelter in Orange County, where she says she got invaluable real-world veterinary experience.

“I’ve continued to work while I’ve been in school so I’ve managed to pay as I go without running up a student debt” Crownshaw says. “The fourth year is so demanding, though. I was resigned to having to take out a loan this time around. The timing of getting this scholarship was perfect. It’s a game-changer.”

Crownshaw loves rescue animals. Her home in Oxford is filled with them: two dogs and four cats, all adopted from shelters. And like Angelichio, she is very willing to adopt pets with existing medical problems.

She hopes to work in a small animal practice after graduation and volunteer her services to help shelter animals. While in school, she works as a veterinary assistant at the Willow Oak Veterinary Hospital in Durham and hopes to continue there after graduation.

“I just want to improve animals’ lives,” Crownshaw says. “I love shelter animals because they have no one. They need someone to stick up for them, and I can be that person.”

~Steve Volstad/NC State Veterinary Medicine