A new scholarship program at POISE Foundation aims to support BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) students pursuing veterinary medicine. The Theresa and Allen Thomas BIPOC Education Fund, created by married and retired veterinary and business professionals Drs. Theresa and Allen Thomas, will not only assist students with their educational costs, but it will also boost diversity within the field. According to a 2022 Bureau of Labor Statistics report, only 2.2 percent of veterinarians in the United States are Black, while 4.8 percent are Latinx or Asian. Researchers also forecast that the nation’s current veterinary shortage could worsen, leaving 75 million pets without care by 2030.
“We want to help address the shortage of minority veterinarians by providing scholarships through POISE Foundation,” said Dr. Theresa Thomas “We believe in philanthropy and giving to the community. A stable, productive, contributing community enriches all of our lives.”
In addition to making up a small percentage of veterinarians nationwide, African-American vets graduate with massive debt from leading veterinarian medical institutions–more than $150,000 in student loans.
“Recruitment and retention are particularly critical within the Black community, and we want to help future veterinarians with their debt loads so they thrive and stay in the profession,” said Dr. Allen Thomas.
Dr. Theresa Thomas graduated from Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine in 1985 with a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine Degree. Dr. Allen Thomas graduated from Cornell University in 1979 and later attended Columbia University School of Business, graduating with a Master of Business Administration in 1982.
“We are honored to house The Theresa and Allen Thomas BIPOC Education Fund here at POISE,” said Mark Lewis, POISE Foundation CEO. “This fund will address the underrepresentation in the veterinary medicine field and increase access to education. In turn, we hope this also increases exposure to this career track.”
Application forms for the Theresa and Allen Thomas BIPOC Education Fund are available on POISE Foundation’s website. Eligible applicants must demonstrate financial need and be full-time 2nd, 3rd, or 4th-year veterinary students attending the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine in Ithaca, NY. The fund hopes to raise $1 million over the next ten years. Thus far, nearly $200,000 has been raised and $25,000 in scholarships will be awarded this year.