Championing Student Support

Veterinary Scholarship Trust of New England helps aspiring veterinarians offset rising cost of education
A framed work of art, depicting the heads and focusing on the eyes of nine different animals.
“Eyes on the Future,” an original oil painting by Robin Truelove Stronk, DVM, was commissioned by VSTONE and appeared on the cover of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association in November 2008. Photo: Troy Watkins

The steadily rising cost of veterinary education creates a significant challenge for many individuals aiming to complete a degree from one of the nation’s 33 colleges accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association.

As the only veterinary school in New England, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University is fortunate to benefit from the generosity of several organizations and entities that offer scholarship opportunities to veterinary students, most prominently the Veterinary Scholarship Trust of New England (VSTONE).

Founded in 1958 by three veterinarians, VSTONE started as a loan organization for veterinary students, but transitioned to a scholarship trust to better serve students as education costs rose, according to VSTONE Board of Trustees Chair Richard A. Heller, D.V.M. (he/him). 

VSTONE offers 14 named scholarships, ranging from $500 book awards to an $8,000 scholarship, with several $5,000 awards. Most of them are awarded to Cummings School students, although New England-native individuals studying at other veterinary schools are eligible. According to Heller, over the past 15 years VSTONE has donated more than $1.5 million to veterinary students.

Heller ran Milford Animal Hospital for many years, while fellow VSTONE Trustee J. Clyde Johnson, V.M.D. (he/him), was a long-time co-owner/operator of Vermont New Hampshire Veterinary Clinic.

Numerous Cummings School alumni, such as Annie Gagliardi, V22 (she/her), have earned VSTONE-sponsored scholarships over the years. Last spring, Gagliardi received the Four Legs or Two Award, which provided significant support. 

“I have two young kids—the first, born right before I started vet school, and the second, born right before I started clinics,” Gagliardi explains. “I used the scholarship money from the VSTONE award to help pay for childcare while I was finishing clinics, and the 'Four Legs or Two' books that Dr. Johnson sent following the award entertained my whole family.”

Since graduating in November, Gagliardi has been practicing large animal ambulatory medicine at a practice in western Massachusetts, working with dairy and beef cattle, horses, goats, sheep, and pigs.

“We are very grateful for the support that our students continue to receive from VSTONE,” says Alastair Cribb, Cummings School dean and Henry and Lois Foster Professor. “The rising costs of a veterinary education are a challenge for all of us and the long-term commitment of VSTONE has been an important part of supporting students from New England.”

Heller adds, “Ninety-five percent of what we raise goes to scholarships. We highly encourage veterinary students to apply for these awards so we can help with the debt they are accumulating.”

For more information about VSTONE, including how to apply for its scholarships, visit