How to Do More

The UW veterinary school’s inaugural class pays it forward with an endowed scholarship.

Veterinary tech takes dog's weight at clinic

Alumni contributed some $43,000 to the SVM Charter Class of 1987 Scholarship Fund for those who want to be veterinarians. Bryce Richter

The inaugural class at the UW’s School of Veterinary Medicine (SVM) led the way as the first graduates in 1987, and now they’re leading the way again, in supporting others who want to become veterinarians.

Brad Poff DVM’87, one of the members of that first class, thought it would be a great idea for the class to create an endowed scholarship.

“We’re at an age when we’re retiring, we’re setting up estate plans— so it seemed like a great time to establish our charter class scholarship,” he says.

Poff rallied his peers to give some $43,000 to the SVM Charter Class of 1987 Scholarship Fund. “I hadn’t really been in contact with many of these folks for a long time,” he says. “I spent hours on the phone with people that I hadn’t talked to since vet school — it was a fun experience.”

Pete Gaveras DVM’87, who was one of the first to jump on board, agrees. “I personally am very proud of how our class came together with a common goal,” he says. The exchange of jokes and banter “kind of brought us back 30 years to some of the enjoyable times we had as classmates. It was just really touching.”

Gaveras, who sometimes refers his clients’ pets for treatment at SVM, has given scholarship gifts in memory of these pets, and fund donors can also give in honor of people. “I thought that was a nice touch,” he says.

“We had a unique relationship with the school as a class,” Gaveras adds, noting that, as the first students, they were able to provide considerable input and help shape the program. “As a result, a lot of us have maintained relationships with the school, and we appreciate being able to give back to a profession that has given so much to us.”

This wasn’t the first time that Poff has given back. Because he was a married father of two when he attended the UW’s veterinary school, he knew how hard it was to complete coursework while working — which he felt compelled to do in order to provide health insurance for his family. So, several years ago, he and his wife started a scholarship for students in similar circumstances. But Poff, who has spent his career in medical-device development, says, “I wanted to try to figure out how to do more — and the idea of a doing a class scholarship popped into my head.”

His veterinary school education, he says, “changed not just my life — it changed a bunch of people’s lives. Let’s pay that forward.”

Published in the Spring 2022 issue

Tags: Alumni, pets, scholarship, Teaching and learning

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