Evening of Gratitude

Evening of Gratitude 2020

Evening of Gratitude 2020

The school celebrated its annual Evening of Gratitude virtually on October 8 honoring our generous donors and exceptional students, together advancing veterinary medicine into the future. Students received $6.5 million in total support through scholarships and return to aid, thanks to the generosity of individual, association and corporate donors who made more than 450 awards possible this year.

With the advent of the global COVID-19 pandemic came significant changes to the way we conduct our educational operations, and everyone rose to the challenge,“ said Associate Dean of Professional Education Joie Watson in her opening remarks. “The word for this year is adaptation.”

Faculty and staff were tasked with making rapid and significant changes to the way they offered opportunities for learning. Students were significant partners in the race to build the best virtual and then hybrid curriculum possible.

Watson described how students made her proud with their ability to thrive, in many cases thanks to the generous support of our donors. She shared stories of students in a video that highlights the impacts of scholarships.


Anne Chiruvolu, Class of 2021, served as the student speaker. She is the recipient of four scholarship awards the Dr. Scott A. Sloan Award in Veterinary Medicine and the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine Client Communication Award in 2020, the Harold Hirsch Scholarship in 2019, and the Barry S. Kipperman Award in Veterinary Ethics in 2018.

“I’m so grateful for the opportunity to share with you how important scholarships from donors like you have been in making my vet school journey possible,” Chiruvolu said. “In addition to my gratitude for the financial support scholarships provided, they also made me feel like I was in a community where I truly belonged — where my achievements and contributions to the field of veterinary medicine mattered.”

As long as she could remember, Chiruvolu wanted to become a veterinarian. She was always drawn to animals and felt a passion for healing.

“Throughout my journey, I've never lost sight of the fact that none of this would have been possible without the support of the donors who make UC Davis the incredible veterinary school that it is,” Chiruvolu said. “You are all in a very real sense the heroes making our dreams possible.”

Watson next introduced two special speakers, Dean Michael Lairmore and his wife Donna, who shared their thoughts as donors. They, along with other generous donors, commit to helping students reach their goal to practice a noble profession.

Caring about the well-being and success of graduates, the Lairmores are champions for future leaders in the veterinary profession and in our communities. They established the Dean Lairmore Leadership Award in 2013, which is awarded to a veterinary student who has assumed leadership positions during his/her career. To date, 10 students have received this prestigious award. 

The Dean described how both he and Donna come from humble backgrounds and as award recipients themselves appreciate how scholarships transformed their lives.

“And now as donors to a scholarship, we understand the gratitude at its core, and it is grounded in our own personal beliefs,” the Dean expressed. “The gratitude we see in our recipients inspires and reminds us of our own journeys.”

The Lairmores have a strong desire to pay it forward, helping the next generation in their quest to become exceptional veterinarians who will make a difference in important ways specializing in practice and healing animals, devising new treatments, pursuing a research pathway to discover breakthroughs and better understand diseases, or serving internationally to prevent pandemics.

“Helping students reach their dreams is magical and rewards our souls, knowing that we are building the future through our students’ successes,” Donna said.

Thanks to the generosity of donors, the school leads the nation among veterinary schools for institutional student aid and each year awards hundreds of scholarships and fellowships totaling millions of dollars to our students. Keeping student debt at one of the lowest in the nation and offering outstanding programs makes the school the best value in veterinary education. The School of Veterinary Medicine is ranked #1 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report and #1 globally by QS World University.

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