HSVMA Scholarship Recipient

Cummings School’s Aria Stewart, VG20, a second-year D.V.M. student, earns Compassionate Care Scholarship from Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association
a smiling individual with glasses and curly dark hair wearing a light purple sweater stands beside a research poster.
Aria Stewart, VG20, presented her project, “Development and Optimization of a Human Simplex Virus-1 (HSV-1) Specific PCR Assay for Use in New World Primates,” at Veterinary Research Day in August. Photo: Jeff Poole for Cummings School

Aria Stewart, VG20 (MCM) (she/her), a second-year student in the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, has received a $10,000 Compassionate Care Scholarship from the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association (HSVMA).

Scholarship awardees are recognized for demonstrating an interest in either animal welfare, rights, and/or protection issues, while representing a commitment to equitable access and inclusion in veterinary medicine via service or lived experience.

Through her personal and educational experience, the guidance received from mentors, and involvement in activities on the Cummings School campus, Aria has developed a passion for diversity, equity, and inclusion issues and leads by example.

I want to show other people of underrepresented groups, especially black and Latinx students, that veterinary medicine is a possible career, she says. I strive to reflect the change that is occurring within the field.

Getting to this point in her journey has had its challenges. Born and raised in a Los Angeles suburb, Aria moved to Boston on her 18th birthday and earned a B.A. in biology from Boston University, before the first-generation college student hit a roadblock in her formal education.

“It took me four application cycles to get into a veterinary school,” Aria explains. “So, after each rejection, I asked myself, what can I do to become a better applicant?”

She decided to pursue a graduate degree, and chose Cummings School’s Master of Science in Conservation Medicine (MCM) program. Aria earned her degree in 2020 under the instruction and mentorship of Dr. Chris Whittier, V97, MCM program director and assistant teaching professor in the Department of Infectious Disease & Global Health (IDGH). 

“Chris Whittier opened my eyes to the possibilities of veterinary medicine,” Aria says. “He believed in me and pushed me to think critically when approaching conservation issues. I attribute a lot of my problem solving and innovative thinking skills to his mentoring.”

Over the past few years, Aria has been gaining practical experience as a veterinary technician. She has learned much from the tutelage of Dr. Christopher Ulrich at Huron Veterinary Hospital in Somerville, Massachusetts. “Dr. Ulrich is one of the most compassionate and empathetic vets I’ve ever met,” she says. “He is great at teaching me how to work compassionately with clients.”

Over the summer, Aria completed a research project titled, “Development and Optimization of a Human Simplex Virus-1 (HSV-1) Specific PCR Assay for Use in New World Primates,” under the advisement of Dr. Marieke Rosenbaum, V14, VG14 (MPH/MS), assistant professor, IDGH. She presented her findings at Veterinary Research Day

“Dr. Rosenbaum helped me to build a strong benchtop/lab science skill set,” Aria shares. “A lot of my future goals and potential projects will rely heavily on the skills and tools she helped me shape this past summer.”

Aria also serves as secretary of the campus chapter of the Latinx Veterinary Medical Association and as a member of the Veterinary Education Review Committee, representing her peers. “My career goals have evolved over the past few years, because of all these experiences,” Aria contends. “I appreciate general practice and in providing accessible care, which I’m really passionate about, but I hope to eventually do international work with a focus on conservation that is inclusive of the populations.” 

The third Cummings School student to receive an HSVMA Compassionate Care Scholarship since their inception 2016, Aria succeeded Stella Elwood, V23, and Adrian Dannis, V20. Joining Aria among this year’s five scholarship recipients was Cummings School Master of Science in Animals and Public Policy program graduate Esther Lam, VG19, a D.V.M. student at University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine.

Educating Tomorrow’s Veterinarians

The only veterinary school in New England, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine prepares D.V.M. graduates for entry level practice in any of the major domestic species, through a curriculum designed to nurture individuals who will become lifelong learners and leaders in developing the science, technology, and ethics that will shape the future of the veterinary profession.