Winter 2021 Issue
by Josh Babcock | Photos by Henry Moore Jr.
When Cord Kivi receives his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine this spring, he hopes to honor a veterinarian and Coug alumnus whom he’s never met.
Kivi, an aspiring veterinarian since the third grade and a student at Washington State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, is the 2020 recipient of the Dr. Donald Kelts Family Veterinary Scholarship. The annual scholarship supports hardworking third-year veterinary students whose first career is in veterinary medicine.
“When I got into vet school, I couldn’t ask my parents to take on more debt for my education and I found the curriculum to be too difficult to balance with a job,” Kivi says. “This scholarship takes some of the financial burden off of me, so I can concentrate on what’s truly important.”
Kivi is the seventh student to receive the award since it was created in 2014, but Kelts (’72 DVM) has been paying it forward for WSU veterinary students who share his passion for more than 40 years. Since 1979, the now-retired veterinarian has gifted more than $140,000 to the college.
He started the Dr. Donald Kelts Family Veterinary Scholarship in the name of his wife, Terri; his son, Ian; and his daughters, Darci, Deborah and Gwendolyn.
Kivi, who is no stranger to hard work, is more than grateful.
To manage his student loans, he spent the first three summers of veterinary school on a fire engine crew that was ready to dispatch to anywhere in Kittitas County or the surrounding areas if resources were needed.
“To know I can serve the community and those animals that are a huge part of their lives is quite humbling. I feel an immense burden to prove myself to myself, my future colleagues and the Kelts family who graciously provided me with this scholarship. I hope to honor Dr. Kelts’ name as a new veterinarian this spring.” — Cord Kivi (’21 DVM)
With his clinical rotations beginning, he said, he was unable to do the work last summer, noting the Kelts Family Veterinary Scholarship couldn’t come at a better time.
Kelts said he created the scholarship because he knows what it’s like to be a veterinary student.He recalled spending one Pullman summer working at a grain elevator outside of town and his school semesters working at the Student American Veterinary Medical Association store.
In a field characterized by frequent life-changing decisions for animals, Kelts says he wants to help with the financial stressors that come studying for a degree in veterinary medicine.
For Kelts, veterinary medicine was about the thrill of solving a medical mystery to aid an animal. That passion led Kelts out of his first career as a high school science teacher in the Seattle area and across the state to WSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine; it’s also why he gives back.
“An animal can’t tell you it hurts. It’s a mystery; that’s always the challenge,” Kelts says. “I want others to experience that.”
Kelts retired as a respected veterinarian in the Seattle area. He purchased Aerowood Animal Hospital in Bellevue, Wash., in 1975 and ran the clinic for 26 years until he sold it in 2001. He grew the clinic from four employees to about 30 during that time and expanded the clinic to provide 24-hour emergency care.
He also owned and operated Sunset Pet Hospital in Renton, Wash., for several years before selling in 2001; Kelts retired in 2008.
Kivi, nearing the start of his professional career, said he is working to ensure he puts Kelts’ investment to good use, which starts with living up to the high standards of the respected veterinarian.
“To know I can serve the community and those animals that are a huge part of their lives is quite humbling. I feel an immense burden to prove myself to myself, my future colleagues and the Kelts family who graciously provided me with this scholarship,” he says. “I hope to honor Dr. Kelts’ name as a new veterinarian this spring.”