By Jamie Leary

BELLEVUE, Colo. (CBS4) – A year after Gov. John Hickenlooper signed the Veterinary Education Loan Repayment Program into law, Colorado State University, one recipient of the state funding, along with partners, are preparing to select the first student recipients. The program aims to fill the veterinarian shortage in the state by helping repay student loans.

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“The loan goes to the individual person but the individual person’s action; it’s affecting the entire community, so I think all the communities in rural Colorado are going to benefit from this,” said Dr. Julia Herman, a veterinarian and clinical instructor at CSU.

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CBS4’s Jamie Leary met Dr. Herman at Morning Fresh Dairy Wednesday. It’s one of several farms partnering with CSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. 

It’s a win-win partnership, Morning Fresh has close to 3,000 head of cattle so the farm gets extra help and the students get hands-on training. 

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“My favorite part about this is when the students can take something from the classroom and apply it. You can see it on their face when the light bulb goes off,” said Herman. 

She loves her job and knows the students face a heavy burden. Not just with animal care. 

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“I have a lot of student loans and they’re kind of astronomical. I think that was one of the biggest drawbacks in like going into veterinary medicine,” said Jessica Ladd, a 4th year veterinary student at CSU.

The average debt for veterinary graduates is around $160,000. 

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Ladd is one of several students earning credit for a little hands on training at Morning Fresh Dairy. She says she knew the kind of debt she would acquire but chose the profession anyway.

“I love helping provide resources for people who want to make sure that their animals stay healthy.”

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Ladd says the loan program will make it easier for her to take a job in rural Colorado and may influence others to do the same. 

Each year, up to four graduates are selected and can receive up to $70,000. There are several requirements but the biggest one is that recipients agree to practice in areas around the state experiencing vet shortages.

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“This program is really going to open doors for people who want to go back to rural Colorado and support the communities that they go into,” said Herman. 

Jamie Leary joined the CBS4 team in 2015 and currently works as a reporter for CBS4 News at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. She couldn’t imagine a better place to live and work and will stop at nothing to find the next great story. Jamie loves learning about and hearing from her fellow community members, so connect with her on Facebook or Twitter @JamieALeary.


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