While connecting with old veterinary friends at his 50th reunion this June, Dr. Carmen Scherzo ’65 also wanted to make a difference for the next generation; so he donated $50,000 to the Class of 1965 Scholarship Fund—a gift that continues his long personal tradition of giving back to colleagues in his profession. “My making a contribution to the Class of 1965 Scholarship Fund has enabled me to support our profession and veterinary medical education at Cornell,” says Dr. Scherzo. “It’s a small repayment for the outstanding guidance, training, and education I received.”
Dr. Scherzo had an interest in veterinary medicine from an early age—as a high school student, he worked for a local Cornell veterinarian, who recommended Scherzo attend Cornell’s school of Agriculture and Life Sciences as a precursor to going to veterinary school. The advice was sound—two years later, Scherzo was attending Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine, with financial assistance from his father. “My father was an immigrant with a sixth-grade education.” Says Scherzo. “He was skilled with his hands, and became a core-maker. He didn’t make a lot of money at it, but he enabled his three sons to complete college educations.”
As a veterinary student, Scherzo gravitated towards small animal medicine, and recalls his valuable time working in the small animal clinic at the College. “It gave me a chance to pick brains as well as mop the floors,” he says. “It was a great experience for me.”
Upon graduation, Dr. Scherzo went on to an internship at the Angell Memorial Animal Hospital in Boston. “I graduated owing Cornell University a total of $1,200 and was thus able to pursue that coveted, but low paying internship,” he says. “New veterinarians are forced to choose higher paying positions to satisfy their debt and this denies them choice.”
Scherzo went on to run a small animal hospital in hometown of Kearny, N.J., which he owned and oversaw for over 35 years. “I was paying salaries to associate veterinarians, I knew what they were making, and what kind of debt they were dealing with…even 20 years ago there were students carrying $150,000 to $200,000 of debt.”
Motivated to make a difference, Dr. Scherzo supported the New Jersey Veterinary Education Foundation, which disbursed $50,000 to $60,000 worth of grants annually to aid New Jersey students to reduce the cost of attending veterinary school if they returned to practice in the state. “This was a labor of love, as I believed so strongly about these new veterinarians being able to achieve their dreams,” says Dr. Scherzo.
Dr. Scherzo’s gift to the Scholarship Fund furthers this goal in helping young veterinarians, while also acknowledging the vital role the College played in his education. “Cornell just opened so many doors, from a learning standpoint,” he says. “It became a fountain of knowledge for me. It gave me the foundation that I needed to do the things I wanted to do in this life.”