Scholarship helps student fulfill dream of research in UK and Ireland
by Amy Loeffler
Olivia Brooks, a junior majoring in animal and poultry sciences, always wanted to visit the British Isles, but she never anticipated that her dream trip and university studies would collide in a class about animal behavior and management.
As the recipient of the John “Buster” Beier Memorial Excellence Fund, Brooks was able to travel to the United Kingdom and Ireland to conduct research and compare animal husbandry and harvesting practices with those of farmers and ranchers in the U.S.
“We got to experience many aspects of life in the U.K. and Ireland that normal tourists would not,” said Brooks. At one point in her trip, the group stopped at a goat farm where the owner taught everyone in the group how to make cheese.
Brooks’ trip is just one example of the benefits students reap from scholarships that alumni provide. The Beier Fund has helped 10 students since its inception in 2011. The John and Pat White Scholarship Fund has been helping students since 2006. The Virginia Tech CALS Alumni Organization Scholarship Fund has provided students with more than $21,000 since 2005, and the organization’s annual golf tournament has raised nearly $20,000 in scholarships and contributed close to $19,000 to endowments over the years.
All of these funds help support students like Brooks achieve their academic dreams.
“The majority of our trip was spent on local farms where we learned about their management techniques and how they implemented behavioral knowledge into their programs,” said Brooks, whose research topic was examining housing systems for swine.
With one dream accomplished, Brooks hopes that her time abroad will play into her future dreams of becoming a veterinarian. The uncommon perspective she has gained by traveling across the pond is something she anticipates will give her a leg up on her competition.
“The completion of this project was a huge milestone in my academic career,” Brooks said.