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Annable Scholarship Supports Student Driven to Serve

Elisa Meier
The Annable Scholarship allows the class of 2021's Elisa Meier to volunteer instead of having to hold down a job while pursuing her studies.  Photo by John Joyner/NC State Veterinary Medicine

The first time Elisa Meier shadowed a veterinarian as a teenager,  it didn’t go well. The two just didn’t hit it off, and that made her question whether the profession was right for her.

Thanks to hippotherapy, her interest in veterinary medicine was rekindled. 

When she was 16, Meier was volunteering with children with disabilities in her native Michigan when she first learned about hippotherapy, the use of horseback riding for therapeutic or rehabilitative treatment.

“It was great to hear a kid start giggling when you took them from a wheelchair and put them on horseback,” she says. 

Today Meier is a member of the class of 2021 at the NC State College of Veterinary Medicine with a passion for small animal medicine supported by the Michele M. and Ross M. Annable Scholarship. 

The scholarship, funded by a $5 million endowment from the Annables and matched by $5 million from the R.B. Terry Charitable Foundation, covers up to half of DVM student’s tuition. The scholarship also encourages volunteerism and community service.

“The Annable Scholarship makes it possible to think ahead and look at a future without debt,” Meier says. 

Meier considered going into human medicine as she grew up. She and her family volunteered at a free clinic for  indigent people as part of their community involvement work. It’s how she first gained a taste for service. 

Meier’s unconventional path to where she is today included a special early college preparatory program in conjunction with Eastern Michigan University starting when she was 15. She had a particular fascination with math and science, especially biology, chemistry and physics. That led to her becoming a double major in both chemistry and biology at EMU, where she graduated at 20, magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree. While there she was also active in the pre-veterinary club.

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By working several jobs while carrying a heavy course load, she was also able to graduate debt free. As a result, she says, she decided not to apply to vet school right away.

Meier connected with a friend of her sister’s who worked at the Duke Clinical Research Institute and was looking to hire. Meier worked in clinical trials positions at DCRI for two years. By the time she was ready for veterinary school, she considered her options. Michigan State had always been her dream school, but she qualified for in-state tuition at NC State, which combines lower tuition with a world-class DVM education. In 2017, she enrolled at NC State.

“I’m so appreciative of the opportunities here,” she says. “The low tuition and the personalized education shows how much value they place on students.” Meier credits Jody Gookin, the FluoroScience Distinguished Professor in Veterinary Scholars Research Education and professor of internal medicine, with being an especially important mentor, showing Meier the value of learning more about research.

The Annable Scholarship makes it possible to think ahead and look at a future without debt.

Meier’s determination to hold down student debt and her passion for community service made her a natural fit for the Annable Scholarship. The scholarship allows her to volunteer instead of having to hold down a job while pursuing her studies. 

Meier has traveled the Navajo Nation in New Mexico and remote northwestern Alaskan Yup’ik villages to provide veterinary services and education about animal care. She has assisted veterinarians in providing spays and neuters for rescue animals for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and local rescue groups, as well as providing low-cost vaccine clinics to area communities

Now she’s interested in pursuing an internship at another institution followed by a residency at NC State. 

“I couldn’t afford that without the help of the scholarship,” says Meier. “I’m feeling good about my options.”

~Steve Volstad/NC State Veterinary Medicine