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Scholarship Endowment Celebrates Education’s Everlasting Impact

Jennifer Smith and her dog Smurfy
Jennifer Smith and her dog, Smurfy. Photo by John Joyner/NC State Veterinary Medicine

Jennifer Smith didn’t have a choice. Her father made that clear. 

“With my dad, it was not if, but when I would go to college,” she says. “And he didn’t want me to have to work, either. He thought that my job was to study while I was in school.”

Now, by working with the North Carolina Veterinary Medical Foundation, Smith, along with her husband, Tom, has created a legacy for her father, Richard Hodges.

The Smiths have established the Richard V. Hodges Scholarship Endowment at the NC State College of Veterinary Medicine. In addition to recognizing the importance her father placed on education, it reflects Smith’s commitment to animal welfare as a longtime advocate for animal rescue organizations. 

The scholarship aims to help students with financial needs be able to devote more time to their studies and less time having to worry about making ends meet by working while in veterinary school. 

Both Smiths are NC State grads: Jennifer with both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in engineering, and Tom with two bachelor’s in both economics and accounting.

Jennifer Smith and her father Richard Hodges at her NC State graduation in 1991.

Smith says that for a time she even dreamed of going to the CVM. “It just turned out that I was better at physics and calculus than I was at biology and chemistry,” she says. But her love of animals was unwavering.

She became seriously interested in animal rescue work when she saw a TV news report about an intervention at a home that had housed a large number of sick and malnourished poodles and birds. 

At the time, Smith owned a pair of poodles, seeing the suffering animals that officials had liberated touched Smith deeply. So much so, she ended up adopting one of the dogs that had been rescued that day.

Smith has been active with animal rescue work for the last 10 years, most recently establishing a dog rescue division within the avian rescue organization Marden’s Ark.

Today, the Smiths’ animal companions includes five dogs and a parrot, all rescues. Several have been treated by clinicians at the NC State Veterinary Hospital for a variety of ailments. 

That’s how the Smiths began to interact with the North Carolina Veterinary Medical Foundation, which raises funds to support educational, research and extension activities in veterinary medicine.

“I hope this scholarship will do for future students what my dad did for me,” Smith says. “I want to pay it forward by making it possible for students to focus on their education without having to worry about their finances. My dad was able to give me the gift of that freedom.

Maybe later on in their lives, these students will be able to do the same for someone else, and my dad will have created an everlasting legacy.”

Your gift to the NC State College of Veterinary Medicine supports our extraordinary students, expert medical care and cutting-edge research. Find out ways to support the CVM and the veterinary hospital here. 

~Steve Volstad/NC State Veterinary Medicine