On March 4, the veterinary college hosted the Evening of Gratitude, an annual event that celebrates and shows gratitude for the donors who have so generously supported the college.

At the Evening of Gratitude, donors were introduced to scholarship recipients, allowing them to hear how their support affects students' lives. One such student was Gabriel Faulcon, scholarship recipient and a member of the DVM class of 2026.

Having grown up helping out on the family farm, Faulcon always knew he wanted to be a veterinarian, and he is now studying to become a veterinary epidemiologist. 

"The incredible curriculum here at Virginia-Maryland has allowed me to personalize my education in ways that will better prepare me to serve our public health system through veterinary medicine,” said Faulcon. 

"There are many talented students like myself — a lot of them are in this room — who dream of earning an education from this university. Unfortunately, the reality is that we would not be able to be here without your support." 

Faulcon explained that the financial support of scholarships allows students to focus more on their studies. 

Veterinary school debt is a serious issue. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, the average amount of veterinary school debt in 2020 was $157,146 — and the debt-to-income ratio for newly graduated students continues to climb. For many veterinarians, debt from school is an overwhelming obstacle to thriving in their careers. 

As a professor, Roger Ramirez-Barrios sees the impact scholarships can have on students. 

"Coming from a country where higher education is free, I can barely imagine all the pressure that students feel about their careers, so that's why I really appreciate all your help in student scholarship donations. It's not a secret — the impact, students know, is on their physical and mental health. You need all the support that we can provide you, and scholarships are one of the good ways we can help you. However, for me, I truly believe that the support we can provide you has to go beyond scholarship,” said Ramirez-Barrios, clinical associate professor of veterinary parasitology. 

Ramirez-Barrios continued to speak about his commitment to mentoring students and giving them the support they need to thrive. His dedication to his students hasn't gone unnoticed — Ramirez-Barrios was recently named VVMA Mentor of the Year.

As Bernie Cosell pointed out, gratitude goes both ways. Cosell said he wanted to “heap praise” on the team that treats his farm’s Merino sheep.

Bernie and Lynn Cosell are longtime supporters of the veterinary college, including supporting the college's new facility for dairy cows. With the help of cows, veterinary students learn skills from handling to assessing milk quality. Having the cows on site increases access — students will no longer have to drive to the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ facilities to work with cows. 

The Cosells’ Giles County sheep farm has offered hands-on learning to scores of students, and they have generously endowed a scholarship for large animal veterinary students. 

In the 30 years since they started their sheep farm in Giles County, the Cosells have formed a strong working relationship with the Production Management Medicine team at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital. 

"They took care of our sheep in a way you can't imagine — we have called them at 1 o'clock on a Sunday morning when a ewe was having trouble lambing, and we had a vet out at our farm by 2 a.m., helping us deal with it and bringing a few students,” said Cosell. 

"We wanted to give money back to the vet school because they have been so good to us and such an important part of our farm." 

In contributing to the college, donors’ generosity will touch countless lives as the next generation of veterinarians makes their mark upon the field of veterinary medicine.

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