Two Montanans win major scholarships for regional veterinary program | TSLN.com

Two Montanans win major scholarships for regional veterinary program

BOZEMAN — Two Montana State University alumni who are well on their way to becoming veterinarians have received major scholarships from organizations devoted to horses.

Anne Hutton of Wisdom received a $75,000 Coyote Rock Ranch Scholarship from the American Association of Equine Practitioners, and Kelsey Stoner of Montana City received a $45,000 Margaret A. Haines Telephony Scholarship from the American Quarter Horse Association. Both are in their fourth year of a regional veterinary program that involves Washington, Idaho, Montana and Utah, or WIMU.

Stoner said she is shocked, but honored, to be selected for the scholarship.

"The scholarship is truly life-changing, and I cannot thank the American Quarter Horse Foundation enough," Stoner said. "This award not only reduces my student loan burden, but also gives me an opportunity to pursue further education without having to worry about finances."

Hutton said her scholarship will make it possible for her to pursue her dream of specializing in equine surgery.

"Oftentimes, new veterinarians feel pressured to get a job right out of vet school to start paying off debt," she said. "Because of this scholarship, I can pursue an internship and a residency and not worry so much about the finances."

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Jennifer Hodges, financial manager for the WIMU program in Montana, said, "Kelsey and Anne have an incredible work ethic and the scholarships speak to their hard work, dedication and devotion."

Noting the size of the scholarships and the average debt upon graduation — $160,000 to $200,000 — Hodges said the scholarships will have a "major impact on their future."

In awarding Hutton the scholarship, the American Association of Equine Practitioners noted that she had participated in many equine electives, including colic team, equine lameness, advanced equine medicine and applied comparative reproductive physiology in her first three years of veterinary school. She also participated in the Palouse Area Therapeutic Horsemanship practicum.

The American Quarter Horse Association said that Stoner participated in many equine electives, as well. Those included colic team, equine neonatal care, equine lameness, advanced equine medicine and applied comparative reproductive physiology. She also participated in the student ambassador practicum.

Hutton and Stoner both earned degrees in animal science from MSU's Department of Animal and Range Sciences in the College of Agriculture. In the fall of 2014, they joined the first class of Montanans selected for the WIMU program. Both are scheduled to graduate in 2018 and said they hope to return to Montana to practice after completing internships and residencies. Hutton plans to specialize in equine lameness, surgery and rehabilitation. Stoner will focus on equine sports medicine and surgery.

Stoner and Hutton have long dreamed of becoming veterinarians.

"My experience with my own horse made me want to become a veterinarian," Stoner said. "In 2007, when I was a freshman in high school, we found my horse collapsed in the pasture, unable to get up. She was later diagnosed with a deficiency in vitamin E and selenium. The puzzle that surrounded her case and the fact that I couldn't help her made me realize my calling to be a veterinarian."

Stoner was a member of 4-H for nine years. She was involved in swine, sheep, rabbit, horse judging and horse projects. She also trained two horses through the 4-H Colt to Maturity project.

Hutton said she grew up in Wisdom with a population of 79 humans and 20,000 head of horses and cattle.

"The Big Hole Valley afforded me with a childhood tied to the land and the ranching lifestyle," she said, adding that her passion for horses is deeply rooted. "I grew up on the back of a horse in 4-H and have competed in rodeo all my life."

She said 4-H taught her more about caring for animals and responsibility, as did time spent helping her father calve on ranches in the valley.

"While calving with my dad, I learned about diagnosing and treating calves and cows and also horses," Hutton said. "Blood and needles never bothered me. I'd help with C-sections, skinning calves for grafts, roping and doctoring scouring or pneumonic calves and vaccinating horses and cows.

It was while competing in rodeo that Hutton became fascinated with the idea of horses as athletes, which she said culminated in a desire to help them perform at their highest potential.

"I feel that becoming an equine surgeon and specializing in lameness, surgery and rehabilitation is the best way for me to help equine athletes and give back to the performance horse industry," Hutton said.

Montana is now in its fourth year of the WIMU partnership. The first two Montana classes had 11 students each. The last two had 10 each. The students take their first year of veterinary classes in Montana. They spend the next three years at the Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine in Pullman, Washington.

"As one of the students in the inaugural class in Montana at MSU, I feel like I was very well prepared for the rest of my time in veterinary school," Stoner said. "I had an opportunity for so many hands-on experiences that many of the students in Pullman did not receive their first year. I love my MSU family."

Hutton said she initially had reservations about being in the first class to go through the program at MSU, but those worries turned out to be unfounded.

"The small class size made it easy to get to know each other and our professors," she said. "The hands-on learning environment that is provided to a class of 11 students is unparalleled, not only due to the small number of students, but also due to the time put in by everyone who has helped get the program on its feet and keep it going."

She also credits the professors and support staff for "making that first year in Montana the best that it could be."

"It was also a nice transition into the larger class size at Pullman, and I felt that the class was well prepared to enter into the second year," she said. "WIMU also made it possible for us to stay in Montana for one more year. That may not seem like much, but it made a huge difference."

–MSU News