As a child growing up in Peru, Ariana Salcedo saw a lot of stray animals, particularly dogs and cats. Even though Salcedo moved to Northern Virginia when she was 8 years old, those memories stuck with her.

“It broke my heart that I couldn’t do anything to help the animals at the time,” Salcedo said.

The lost animals wandering the streets inspired Salcedo to become a veterinarian — and with the help of life-changing financial assistance at Virginia Tech, Salcedo is on the path to making her dream a reality in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

From the beginning of her higher education journey, Salcedo was determined to do everything in her power to pay for her education through work and scholarships.

“Getting the Beyond Boundaries [Scholars program] scholarship at Virginia Tech made it possible for me to pursue my dream,” Salcedo said. “I don’t know where I would be without it. I am incredibly grateful to everyone who contributes to keeping education affordable.”

Salcedo started at Northern Virginia Community College before transferring to Virginia Tech as a junior. She is one of more than 260 Beyond Boundaries Scholars helped by the program during the 2021-22 academic year. Fundraising for the program is ongoing, with qualifying gifts matched dollar-for-dollar by the university to double their impact. Gifts made through June 30 will help students during the 2022-23 academic year.

“I’ve always had college affordability in the back of my mind when making decisions, so starting at community college was another way for me to reach my goal of graduating without taking out any student loans,” Salcedo said.

When Salcedo arrived in the United States, she saw the power of what a veterinarian could do in this country. She realized that her young goal to save the lives of animals could be realized here.

And when Salcedo arrived on campus as a student in the Department of Animal and Poultry Sciences, she began to make the most of her opportunity. She immersed herself in a variety of activities and organizations, including the Pre-Veterinary Medical Association at Virginia Tech.

With the club, Salcedo has gained experience helping animals of all kinds, including at Mill Mountain Zoo in Roanoke. But one experience on the horizon will bring her even closer to her goal of attending the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine: a trip with the club to Johannesburg, South Africa.

While there, Salcedo will work with the University of Pretoria and learn firsthand how to treat animals in real-world scenarios on the continent. Salcedo and the rest of the group also will travel to a nearby rehabilitation facility to learn how to help injured wild animals heal and be safely released back into their natural habitats.

“I’ve always wanted to go to Africa and work in the field with the wildlife,” Salcedo said. “This is a special experience that I wouldn’t be able to have without the scholarships I received at Virginia Tech.”

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