Winston Churchill famously said that we make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give. Some append that thought with, use your life to make a difference.
Elmer and Virginia Florman, now deceased, are still making a difference. Virginia Florman was grateful to her veterinarian — Michael Buchheit, DVM ’72, of St. Peters, Missouri — for the care and dedication he showed her pets. Through their client-provider relationship, Virginia Florman learned about the uneasy balance between student loan debt, which averages about $150,000 nationally, and average starting salaries of about $65,000 for beginning veterinarians.
Virginia Florman established the Elmer and Virginia Florman Scholarship Fund after her husband’s death in 1999. The CVM received the estate gift in December 2010 following her death. The scholarship is awarded once every four years to fully fund the education of one student at the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM).
In 2017, Carley Brucks became the second CVM student to benefit from the Flormans’ munificence. Receiving the scholarship was, “such a blessing,” Brucks said. “I still don’t think I’ve completely processed it.”
Brucks is from Glasgow, Missouri, a town of 1,100 located 35 miles northwest of Columbia, on the sharpest bend of the Missouri River.
“Glasgow is a tiny little river town. I graduated in a class of 18 people. I am very lucky to have grown up there,” Brucks said. “After high school I was happy to gain a solid foundation for my professional studies at Missouri State University, where I majored in animal science, but the plan was always to come back here to Mizzou for vet school. I’ve known I wanted to be a veterinarian since I was 8 years old.”
Brucks worked throughout her undergraduate years and managed to graduate free of debt. However, the incoming veterinary student learned that she would not be able to work her way through the CVM due to its challenging curriculum and time-consuming responsibilities.
“Just knowing that I was going to have to go through vet school without working, without really being able to support myself, I was going to have to get loans for everything,” Brucks said. “My parents had a little bit of money set aside that we had been saving to help me out, but this takes a huge burden off of them. My dad is actually going to get to retire a little bit earlier now, and that is really exciting for them. I have a younger brother who’s going to engineering school, so now they’ll be able to help him out a little and reduce the number of loans he’ll have to take out. My family is my biggest support system, and I’m so thankful that they no longer have to worry about helping to finance my education.
“It’s hard for me to express how grateful I am — and my whole family is — for the scholarship,” Brucks said. “I won’t have any student loans, but I will always be indebted to the Flormans for their generosity, which will enable me to achieve my dream without enduring the financial stress.”
Her rural roots have inspired and informed Brucks’ dream.
“I grew up in a rural area, and through 4-H and FFA, I drew my focus on large-animal medicine,” Brucks said. “Seeing the impact agriculture has on our country — even the contribution of my little hometown to the state of Missouri — I really want to support the agriculture industry. Farmers and ranchers feed the world, and I’d like to lend to that cause the best I can. I feel like being a large-animal veterinarian is my way of doing that.”
Brucks’ pursuit of her dream is not confined to her studies. She is the fundraising chair for the Class of 2020. She serves as secretary for the student chapter of the American Association of Bovine Practitioners and is treasurer of the Mule Club.
“I’ve never just gone to school,” Brucks says. “I’ve always been involved, that’s just my life. I would be bored if all I did was go to school. For me, being involved in the clubs, getting to go to different presentations and conferences, getting involved in the wet labs, gives me the vision of why I’m doing what I’m doing and what my future looks like. I have to be involved.”
Brucks is profoundly thankful to the Flormans, but hopes everyone appreciates the person who inspired the idea of the endowment.
“It was an amazing donation that Mrs. Florman made, but it may not have ever happened without Dr. Buchheit, the veterinarian who cared for the Flormans’ pets and helped them to establish this scholarship,” Brucks said. “He still practices in St. Peters, and I had the pleasure of meeting him when I was awarded the scholarship. Seeing the impact a good veterinary-client-patient relationship can have on a community was very inspiring.”