University of Saskatchewan veterinary student Nyssa Guilbert is the first recipient of the WCVM’s new Guy Hobman Award. (Photo: Christina Weese)
University of Saskatchewan veterinary student Nyssa Guilbert is the first recipient of the WCVM’s new Guy Hobman Award. (Photo: Christina Weese)

Manitoba student first recipient of ‘Guy Hobman Award’ at USask veterinary college

Animals of all shapes and sizes were a vital part of Nyssa Guilbert’s life in her family’s home in Anola, Man., a small town located 25 kilometres east of Winnipeg.

“Growing up surrounded by animals, I was bound to fall in love with them,” said Guilbert, who recently completed her first year as a University of Saskatchewan (USask) veterinary student at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM). Her career choice combines all of her interests in animals, medicine, and science—along with her drive to help make a difference in the world.

In February, Guilbert became the college’s first recipient of the Guy Hobman Award. The scholarship was created in memory of Guy Hobman, a successful Manitoba businessman who passed away in 2017. After his death, his wife Deanna decided to honour her husband’s love for both animals and Manitoba by creating something that would help veterinary students from their home province.

“The vision for this gift was really to support Manitoba students who love Manitoba as much as Deanna and Guy, and who are planning to return to the province,” said Melissa Mann, director of development at the WCVM.

The endowment of $1 million in Guy Hobman’s memory provides continuous funding for the annual award that will support a first-year student admitted to the WCVM through the Manitoba admission pool. What’s special about the new scholarship is that it fully covers the cost of tuition and student fees for the recipient’s first two years of veterinary school.

“It’s our biggest student award to date,” said Mann. “The award recipients can really focus on their studies and not worry about the burden of tuition.”

The current amounts for WCVM tuition and USask student fees add up to nearly $15,400 per year. For Guilbert, the scholarship will cover fees for the 2022/23 and 2023/24 academic years. 

The WCVM scholarship is one of the many new student awards supporting the university’s Be What The World Needs comprehensive campaign, designed to raise $500 million for USask.

Before beginning the four-year veterinary degree program at the WCVM in 2022, Guilbert spent nine years as a student at the University of Winnipeg. She completed a Bachelor of Science (BSc) degree in biology and nearly finished a second BSc degree with a major in environmental science.

Since applicants must complete at least two years of prerequisite university courses, veterinary students are often working toward—or have completed—one or more university degrees before beginning studies at the WCVM.

“Our veterinary students show up to the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) program having already undertaken multiple years of education,” said Mann. “That means their debt load can get significantly high.”

Guilbert listed many things that she loves about her home province—including the diverse landscapes surrounding her home community that she can explore and enjoy with her family and friends. She also noted the acreages and farmers’ fields around her home, the quick drives to Winnipeg, and the two-hour drive to Whiteshell Provincial Park in southeast Manitoba for camping and hiking.

“Overall, I love that Manitoba has a lot of character and activities to offer that many people might not know about, such as many museums, festivals, federal and provincial parks—and Churchill where you can explore beluga whales and polar bears,” said Guilbert.

Although it’s still early in her veterinary education, Guilbert is very interested in working in a rural Manitoba community as she feels particularly drawn to mixed animal practice. Another future interest is helping residents of northern Manitoba communities gain access to veterinary care.

Guilbert, who described herself as one of those people who “doesn’t win things,” was very excited to hear that she was the first recipient of the new Manitoba-focused scholarship.

“I instantly called my mom to let her know because [my parents] were rooting for me the whole time. It was a weight off my shoulders when I found out,” she said.

“I’m really grateful about the experience. It’s amazing—it’s just a very generous donation.”

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