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by Marcia Hill Gossard ’99, ’04 Ph.D. | Photos by Henry Moore Jr.

Eight years ago, WSU faculty member and alumnus, Dr. John Mattoon and his wife Jennifer created the Our Caring Profession Award to recognize a veterinary student each year who most epitomizes the “gentle doctor.” Qualities like sincere compassion, caring for animals and people, excellence in mentoring and serving as a role model, expertise, humaneness, judgment, and understanding, are the things that make these recipients stand out.

“The student who receives the award is not necessarily the best academically in their class,” says Mattoon, who wanted a scholarship that focused on the profession. “But is someone who is recognized by their peers as caring and is a role model.”

The Mattoons were inspired to create this award shortly after their cats “Baillie” and “Alex” died just one month apart. Baillie was 20 years old and had lived with the Mattoons in two countries and four states. Alex was just 10 years old when she was diagnosed with lymphoma. “She had personality to spare,” says Mattoon.

“Throughout my veterinary education, I strove to embody compassion, kindness and understanding towards my client, their pets, and my colleagues and mentors. I deeply appreciate John and Jennifer Mattoon’s aspiration for recognizing these qualities that are so important in our profession.”  —Laura Maillard (’18 DVM)

“It was the extraordinary care, compassion, and professionalism during this time by from WSU veterinarians and students that motivated us to establish this award,” says Mattoon. “It recognizes a senior veterinary student who had impacted their classmates in a way similar to how we were impacted.”

Rather than faculty selecting the recipient, the fourth-year veterinary students vote for one of their peers who they believe deserves this honor and is someone they would like to emulate. Currently, students receive a $2500 scholarship, but Dr. Mattoon hopes the one day he can make it an endowed scholarship that can be given each year forever.

“It symbolizes our feelings about the veterinary profession and WSU and is a way to pay back to my profession and my college,” says Mattoon. “It is the right thing to do.”

“It was a huge honor to be voted as the gentle doctor by my class. It gives me a lot to live up to.” —Nick Snider (’14 DVM)

Past Recipients

  • Laura Maillard (’18 DVM)
  • Morgan Fuhs (’17 DVM)
  • Jaclyn Fraser (’16 DVM)
  • Abigail (Abby) Thomson (’15 DVM)
  • Nicholas Snider (’14 DVM)
  • Elizabeth Moundalexis DeCastro (’13 DVM)
  • Siri Paschall (’12 DVM)
  • Nicole Lindstrom (’11 DVM)