Scholarship spotlight: Heart of America Kennel Club vet tech scholarship

The Heart of America Kennel Club awards two $1,500 scholarships a year to MCC-Maple Woods veterinary technology students, but that’s not the only way the club is supporting the MCC program.

For about five years, students and faculty have staffed a two-day microchip clinic at the club’s all-breed dog show held each March at Hale Arena in the American Royal complex. Heart of America Kennel Club supplies the identification microchips, so all proceeds from the clinic go to the vet tech club at MCC-Maple Woods. That amounts to about $200 a year, says Dick Rees of Overland Park, a kennel club board member and longtime supporter and volunteer.

And each year since 2009, the kennel club has presented first-year vet tech students at MCC with their own high-quality Littmann stethoscopes, each engraved with the student’s name and HOAKC. “Students will be able to use those stethoscopes to help animals throughout their careers,” says Dr. Chris Morrow, the vet tech program director.

MCC-Maple Woods vet tech students show off their new stethoscopes at a presentation ceremony in the Campus Center. Heart of America Kennel Club board member Dick Rees is at far left; vet tech program director Chris Morrow is at right.
MCC-Maple Woods vet tech students show off their new stethoscopes at a presentation ceremony in the Campus Center in 2015. Heart of America Kennel Club board member Dick Rees is at far left; vet tech program director Chris Morrow is at right.

The Heart of America Kennel Club/Bob and Judy Goodin Veterinary Technology Scholarship — named to honor that couple’s longtime service to the kennel club  — was first awarded in the spring of 2009, initially for $500. Since then, the club’s board of directors has voted to award the scholarship both fall and spring semesters and to increase the amount, to $750 and ultimately $1,500.

The vet tech scholarship came about after a casual conversation between MCC vet tech instructor Melissa Andrasik and Dick Rees and his wife, Janet, in early 2008. (Janet, club secretary for13 years, died in 2010.)

Andrasik was at a kennel club event to give a presentation on basic first aid for pets. “While helping Melissa with her (video) equipment, (the Reeses) engaged her in a conversation about the veterinary technology program and the financial commitment of the students,” explains an article on the HOAKC website.

Dick and Janet Rees proposed the idea of a Maple Woods vet tech scholarship to the kennel club board and later suggested the stethoscope and microchip programs as well.

Kelsey Burenheide, a recipient of the Heart of America Kennel Club scholarship
Kelsey Burenheide, a recipient of the Heart of America Kennel Club scholarship (Photo by Natalie Short)

One of the most recent recipients of the Heart of American Kennel Club scholarship is Kelsey Burenheide, who will graduate next May.

“It helped me pay for an entire semester of school,” says Burenheide, who recently got a job as a technician at MRIGlobal in Kansas City, a research institute that contracts with government and industry. For now, she does “husbandry things like feeding and cleaning,” but once she graduates she’ll work more on studies with animals.

Burenheide says that besides loving animals and wanting to help them, “I love science and learning about how things work. Becoming a vet tech puts all those aspects together.”

As for why MCC’s vet tech program, the hands-on learning here made the choice “basically a no-brainer … the opportunity we have at MCC is incredible and one of the best.”

Morrow says the Heart of America Kennel Club has been an avid supporter of the veterinary technology program.

“I truly appreciate their dedication to our students, instructors, the veterinary technology program and the field of veterinary medicine,” Morrow says. “By helping the program and the students, they are improving veterinary health care throughout the Kansas City region.”