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This fall’s reunion at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine increased support for the school and its current students, thanks to a challenge offered by Janet “JJ” Kovak McClaran, V98, a member of the school’s Board of Advisors. For each reunion class that doubled its class giving participation, she pledged to create a single-year term scholarship, to be presented to a deserving student in the class’s name.

Two classes, 2008 and 1993, had met the challenge by reunion weekend, doubling their number of donors over the previous year. The school’s inaugural class of 1983 and McClaran’s own class of 1998 met the challenge shortly afterward.

“I’m thrilled that the challenge succeeded,” says McClaran, a board-certified, small-animal surgeon at the Animal Medical Center in New York City. “I’ve benefited from my Cummings education every day, and I think it’s important to give back.”

The class of 2008, the first to meet McClaran’s challenge, harnessed social media to motivate classmates.

“We used Facebook to post updates on how many people still needed to contribute and I think that helped a lot,” says Trisha Oura, V08, who served as reunion co-chair for her class along with Misty Williams, V08. “I also think it helped that we made it clear that we weren’t asking for large donations, since the majority of us still have a lot of student loan debt.”

The challenge’s focus on financial aid made it particularly appealing, says Oura, a radiologist at Tufts Veterinary Emergency Treatment and Specialties (Tufts VETS) in Walpole, Mass., who lives in North Grafton with her husband, Sam Jennings, who is also a member of the class of 2008.

“It’s important for me to give back because Tufts was such a huge part in getting me to where I am today,” Oura says. “I had such a positive experience there, and I want others to be able to have that same feeling. I also know that the cost of tuition is a real burden, and I’m happy to be able to make any small contribution that I can in order to help other students.”

McClaran says supporting the Cummings School is a priority. In addition to this year’s challenge and her role on the school’s board of advisors, she co-hosts an annual fundraising event for the school in New York City and travels to Grafton each year to participate in an internship panel for third- and fourth year veterinary students. “Every time I am on campus, I hear about the constant innovation there,” she says. “I’m continually impressed.”

Written by Heather Stephenson. This story first appeared in the Winter 2014 issue of Blueprint. Read the full issue online here.