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Paying it forward

  • Lori Meehan's horses Maia and Breeze

    Paying it forward

    New scholarship fund offers a helping hand for equine and large animal students

An idea popped into Lori Meehan’s head as she stood at her kitchen counter writing a check to West Metro Equine Practice for veterinary services. 

Meehan’s horses, Maia and Breeze, are regularly treated by West Metro for their equine asthma and she had always thought highly of the staff and students who cared for her horses. Now standing at the counter, she wondered how much financial difficulty these students faced as they wrapped up their education and began looking for work. 

“There are plenty of folks who just simply don’t have the money to finish up college and have to cut their education short,” Meehan says. “They not only forgo their dreams but also forgo whatever they were going to contribute to the world by following those dreams.”

Helping alleviate those financial concerns for college students across a variety of disciplines has been a priority for Meehan since retiring from her career as an attorney. She and her husband set up The Next Edison Foundation in 2017, a nonprofit with a mission of providing scholarships to graduate and undergraduate students. 

The Meehan's horses Maia and Breeze and their dog
The Meehan's horses Maia and Breeze and their dog

In doing so, Meehan wants to help students not only finish their education but also reduce their student debt burden. This is key for veterinary students, who often graduate with high debt totals. In 2019, the American Veterinary Medical Association found that the average student debt load for veterinary school graduates was $183,302. 

Paying off large sums of debt weighs heavily on students, and Meehan fears more and more of them are prioritizing finding jobs that will help pay down that debt faster rather than jobs that allow them to follow their passions. 

“I get concerned that you can fund your whole college education with student loans, but then, when you choose what profession and what job you’re going to accept or look for after college, you’re doing that with thoughts toward paying back those student loans,” she says. 

With future equine and large animal veterinarians in mind, Meehan reached out to the College of Veterinary Medicine and worked with development staff to set up The Next Edison Foundation Equine/Large Animal Scholarship. The fund will distribute three $10,000 scholarships to students this year.

“Lori has always been the type of client to welcome our students’ participation during appointments, which we value greatly. However, this scholarship was a huge surprise to me and the rest of our team,” says Brady Bergin, DVM, an associate professor in the Department Veterinary Population Medicine and a care provider at the West Metro Equine Practice. “Its impact will be tremendous and couldn’t come at a better time as veterinary students nationwide are facing some of the highest post-graduation debt loads our profession has ever seen.”

CVM students are eligible to be considered for this scholarship if they are enrolled full-time; are in their first, second, or third year of studies; are seeking a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree with an emphasis on equine and/or large animal medicine; and are able to demonstrate financial need. 

While Meehan’s initial idea of creating this scholarship was spontaneous in nature, she is thrilled that CVM staff worked with her to turn her vision into a reality. The feeling is shared at CVM. 

“It's so heartwarming to have someone like Lori care so much about our students to help them in this way,” Bergin says. “This scholarship has the potential to impact their entire professional career. We are deeply appreciative of her support.”