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Andrea Claire Matason Memorial Scholarship

2 winners, $500 each
In Review
Next Application Deadline
Jul 10, 2024
Next Winners Announced
Aug 10, 2024
Education Level
High School, Undergraduate
Recent scholarship winners
Eligibility Requirements
Education Level:
High school senior or undergraduate
Career Field:
Volunteering at animal shelter or animal rescue group

Andrea Claire Matason was a beloved daughter, friend, and an unconditional lover of all animals. She had a deep, personal commitment to care for them, especially cats and dogs.

Andrea was the owner and operator of a very successful pet-sitting business and a strong supporter of local animal shelters and rescue groups. Her unselfish willingness to help and support others sharing the same commitment was well known and appreciated.

Andrea was studying to become a veteran technician prior to her untimely passing. This scholarship aims to help others realize their dream of helping and healing animals through a career in veterinary medicine.

The Andrea Claire Matason Memorial Scholarship will support high school seniors or undergraduate students who are pursuing veterinary studies. In order to apply, you must have volunteer experience with an animal shelter or animal rescue organization. 

To apply, write a little bit about yourself and how you plan to use your veterinary career to make a positive impact on the world.

Selection Criteria:
Ambition, Need, Boldest Profile
Published April 9, 2024
Essay Topic

Tell us a bit about yourself and how you plan to make a positive impact on the world through your veterinary career.

400–600 words

Winning Application

Becca Contestabile
Purdue University-Main CampusPittsburgh, PA
Entering the brightly lit exam room, I was overcome by the sound of deep crying. After 13 years, the last two spent battling heart failure, Jesse’s frail canine body was ready to give out. The final injection completed the task. Seeing his mother’s tearful face, I tried to meet her gaze, hoping to make things more bearable. I wanted to help and had always imagined veterinarians saving lives. This was my first exposure to euthanasia, and I just learned that medicine cannot always prevail. Instead of being deterred from the field, I found myself wanting to do more to empower clients to be in control of their pet’s health. I had always wanted a career in veterinary medicine since it combines my interest in science and problem-solving with my love for animal welfare. My home growing up was a mini–Noah’s Ark. I saw it as my duty to provide each pet with love and care, which meant familiarizing myself with each species’ unique needs. I found innovative ways to ensure their well-being, such as making precise schedules for a dog with congestive heart failure, a cat with allergies, and a cavy with bumblefoot. As I volunteered at animal shelters and rescues, my confidence grew stronger. When I later became a vet assistant, I immersed myself in learning all I could about small and exotic animals. Initially, I shadowed the duties of a private practice vet in both calm and stressful situations. But quickly, I found myself working with a team to draw blood, restrain animals, run diagnostic equipment, read cytology slides, and assist with emergencies. I did what was directly needed within the active clinic, but I was drawn to interactions concerning senior animals. When I observed how vets discussed a pet’s quality of life and the possibility of euthanasia, I noticed how euthanasia was emphasized as the last act of love. The decision to end a pet’s life is difficult, and it made me consider what I could do to improve their lives before it became the only option. Witnessing countless senior pets return for med refills to treat arthritis, pain, and other age-related conditions, as well as my experience assisting with euthanasia, I recognized the need for a shift in the management of the aging process. I was drawn to animal physical therapy, and it is my goal to be certified in canine rehabilitation. Meds provide short-term relief, but movement and exercise can provide pets with strength and mobility to maintain independence with less pain as they age. Thus, my goal is to help improve a pet’s quality of life while also empowering clients with the tools and education to continue home treatment. This care extends to the pet’s last breath, where I can further educate clients about humane euthanasia to relieve their pet’s suffering. Jesse was the first euthanasia I saw, but since then I have assisted countless others. Each time the grief is no less real, but as a vet, I can work with clients to develop a care plan that supports animals from their first breath to their last.
Lauren Vaill
Holyoke Community CollegePalmer, MA
It was my idea to volunteer for an animal shelter, so my mom looked into it and saw a small cat shelter called Here Today Adopted Tomorrow in Brimfield, Massachusetts, that looked like a great fit. They only adopted our cats but were also cage-free so that cats could roam around on their own accord. We started volunteering by working during adoption hours and assisting those looking for cats to adopt. Then we would help with the end-of-day cleaning routine, such as litter boxes and feeding. About a year later, at 12 years old, my parents decided I was old and mature enough to foster cats and kittens for the shelter. To this day, I have fostered over 80 cats and kittens, including those with injuries that need medical attention, pregnant cats, newborn kittens, and semi-feral kittens. I continued volunteering every Saturday at the shelter from 2016 to 2021 until they offered me a job as a shelter tech. As a shelter tech, I would do the more thorough cleaning shifts in the mornings, process adoptions, counsel adoptions with the general public, manage spay/neuter appointment payments, and provide different types of medical care for the cats. Medical attention can vary greatly; it can be giving microchips, dewormers, flea medication, drawing blood, giving subcutaneous fluids, or any liquid or pill-form medication. I also supervise volunteers during the cleaning shifts because help is needed oftentimes. I've worked to influence change in my community from my work at the shelter and other volunteering I do. I work for the shelter, assisting with our pet food pantry. Our pantry is a program where we use excess donations and additional pet food to give to low-income families who struggle to afford pet food. Every two weeks, we make bags for people who have signed up with free pet food and other supplies we get as needed by our clients. We also offer free TNR(Trap, neuter, return) for feral cat colonies to prevent the number of feral and stray cats in the surrounding towns of the shelter. All spay/neuter operations for ferals are free of cost, and for people's owned cats, we offer low-cost options of $60 or less, which is a vast difference compared to what the surgery costs would be if you just brought your cats to the vet. All of these things have made a huge difference in the towns surrounding the shelter, and I plan to continue to do this type of work for people struggling financially but still wanting to own animals. I believe anyone who wants to should be able to own animals, regardless of their financial status. My experiences with loss have also greatly impacted my career aspirations. My Grammy suffered from multiple sclerosis and often found joy in her animals, which were her three cats. She passed away on May 8th, 2019, and it was one of the most heartbreaking losses I've ever had to cope with. Her being there for animals despite everything she had been through gave me the motivation to push myself to work with animals more. She would be proud to see me now, working at a cat shelter, where I had adopted out and found homes for hundreds of cats and have fostered about 80 cats and kittens from them in the last five years when I was just a volunteer. My personal experiences connected me with animals, which is how I figured out what I was most passionate about and what I wanted to spend the rest of my life doing, which motivates me.
Emily Fleegle
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State UniversityBracey, VA
Ever since I was little, I have had an obsession with anything living. My obsession with animals and learning all I can has never ended, and it is just as strong as it was 10 years ago. I remember going to the Budweiser Stables in Merrimack, New Hampshire with my grandparents when I was 4 or 5, maybe even younger. The size and strength of the massive Clydesdales in their paddocks always amazed me; I would watch them with my jaw dropped. My grandparents are some of my biggest supporters. Every weekend I stayed with them, we went to a new animal attraction. We would go to petting zoos, horse stables, the aquarium, or wildlife demonstrations. My parents have been huge supporters too. My family has two dogs, a cat, and some chickens. I have a leopard gecko and 2 mice, and I have helped my neighbors with their horses for years. Caring for animals is what makes me happy, and learning about them intrigues me. I have been interested in learning everything about animals forever. I remember that when we got my puppy for my 8th birthday, she had her general check-up, and we had to bring in a stool sample. During one of her appointments, my mom mentioned to the veterinarian that I wanted to be a vet. He let me go back into the clinic and showed me under the microscope of all of the cells, and how they knew she didn’t have worms. Today, that very doctor that let me see the sample under the microscope is my boss. I started off at the veterinary hospital for an internship through school and it was the coolest experience in the world. I watched surgery for one day, and the very next day I was asking for a job. Watching surgery for one day wasn’t enough for me. I wanted to learn more, see more, and do more. My curiosity has just grown stronger and stronger over the years. I don’t know why animals captivate me so much. I don’t necessarily believe in fate, and I think people have free will in what they do with their lives, but working with animals is what I am meant to do. I understand animals much better than I do humans, and there is just so much to learn about. I trust animals, and they calm me. It is a never-ending process of learning. You can never know everything about every animal in the world. There is always something to learn, which is why animals captivate me. I will spend the rest of my life working with animals if given the opportunity. I want to major in a science, such as biology, Pre-Veterinary Science or animal science. I hope with this education I will successfully apply to vet school where I can continue my passion for animals. After I graduate from vet school, I hope to travel a little and do some non profit work, and help animals and communities that need it the most. Perhaps I could run a neuter clinic, to prevent overbreeding in domestic animals like cats and dogs. Or I could help out the wildlife that is endangered by providing free veterinary care to those who need it the most. All I know is that I will spend every waking hour I can helping animals.
Danielle Chorba
Michigan State UniversityEast Lansing, MI
My name is Danielle Chorba and I have wanted to become a veterinarian since I was a young girl. My deep passion and love for animals stems far beyond embracing their cute and cuddly nature. Since childhood, I’ve had a strong desire to help animals and could not imagine myself in any other career than in veterinary medicine. As a resident of North Huntingdon Township, I started working at my local clinic, Norwin Veterinary Hospital, as a college sophomore to gain valuable veterinary skills needed for my future profession, but also to give back to my own community by serving the animals in our area. I’ve been working at this wonderful veterinary hospital for three years now and truly value the experiences I have gained while here. While assisting Dr. Bendix, I am fascinated by his thorough work, as he performs comprehensive exams for every pet. Unfortunately, pets are unable to state their symptoms, so veterinarians must rely on the pet owners to give a complete history of the patient. A good veterinarian, like Dr. Bendix, will be sure to clearly communicate with the client to obtain all the information necessary to make a proper diagnosis. A complete and thorough examination of each pet is also crucial. If a pet presents with an ear infection, I will check over the entire animal to ensure that there is nothing else systemically going wrong that could potentially relate to the ear issue. Watching Dr. Bendix piece each case together excites me; I enjoy bringing my knowledge from the classroom to the clinic to understand his thought process in a diagnosis. Dr. Bendix does a great job at being thorough with his clients, which has shown me that it’s important for the owners to understand your ideas. I always see him drawing out diagrams of things such as diabetic glucose curves and explaining his knee model to clients whose pets have a torn knee ligament; he does this so that the clients better understand the diseases their pets have and the treatments necessary for them to feel better. The bond between the veterinarian and the pet owner has allowed me to appreciate these client interactions. Dr. Bendix lays out all the cards on the table, giving pet owners options when it comes to which treatment method they would like to pursue. Sometimes, clients do not have the financial capability to run the expensive bloodwork or undergo chemotherapy. At Norwin Veterinary Hospital, I have been exposed to clients who will do absolutely anything for their pets and some who are just trying to keep their pet comfortable for as long as they possibly can. It is important to give that pet my best no matter which treatment option the clients opt for. As a future veterinarian, I will work with my clients so that their pets are getting quality care within the budget of the family. I aspire to one day follow Dr. Bendix’s footsteps and use all the knowledge and insight he teaches me every day in my future practice. I want to make a difference in the lives of not only my patients, but their owners as well. While saving one patient may not change the whole world, it will surely change the world for that pet and their owners.


When is the scholarship application deadline?

The application deadline is Jul 10, 2024. Winners will be announced on Aug 10, 2024.

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