This article includes quotes and information from the 2012 issue of Perspectives Magazine
After growing up in a tiny farming community in northwest Iowa, Dr. Arnie Pals was entering a whole new world when he enrolled in the Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine in 1959. When one of his suitemates in Rather Hall, who had noticed his good grades, asked Pals if he had ever applied for a scholarship, he replied, “No—what’s a scholarship?”
“Kids from farming communities assumed they had to work their way through college,” said Pals. “They just never thought about scholarships. Later, when I was on the faculty at Michigan State, I found that with farm kids, agriculture students—you had to encourage them to apply, because they didn’t really expect outside help with their education.” Eventually, Pals did apply for a scholarship, and he received funds to cover tuition and a little more for the next three years.
This experience motivated Pals to help others receive financial support as they pursued their dreams of veterinary medicine. Pals, along with his wife Joanne, established the Pals Family Scholarship in order to make a difference for those who struggle with the expenses of attending school. The name of the endowment recognizes that the entire Pals family “has been blessed by the veterinary profession,” as Pals put it. His son, William, earned his DVM from MSU in 1997. His daughters, Carol (MSU ’91) and Sarah, both businesswomen, also support the endowment.
After a long and successful career in veterinary medicine and a life full of love and support, Arnie Pals passed away on May 19, 2022. Upon his death, the funds that were in Pals’ retirement account from MSU went into the Pals Family Scholarship. “It was important to him that he was able to invest in the next generation of students in the profession that gave so much to him,” says Carol (Pals) Stewart.
In addition, the family has decided to honor Pals’ hard work to support Veterinary Nursing students by expanding the Pals Family Scholarship to support not only a DVM student, but also a VN student each year.
Pals was working as a veterinarian at the College when the Veterinary Nursing Program (then called Veterinary Technology) was launched. He was appointed the first director of the program in 1968 and worked hard to enact his vision for students. At that time, the Program was non-degree-granting and administered through the Center for Laboratory Animal Resources. It focused on laboratory animal medicine and didn’t shift the focus to clinical veterinary practice until years later in the 70s. From that point on, Veterinary Technology students received their clinical training in conjunction with Veterinary Medical students and participated in the same clerkships—a practice that continues today.
In the fall of 2022, Carol and Joanne attended the College’s Celebration of Generosity, and Taylor Epp, director of the Veterinary Nursing Program, was at their table. “She told us that the program has a four-year option, and that each student receives a bachelor’s degree,” says Carol. “Wow! My dad would have loved that. With the additional funds that have gone into the scholarship since my father’s passing, we were given the option to support one DVM and one Vet Nursing student per year. The family agreed that this would best represent my dad’s heart.”
Taylor Epp adds, “Dr. Pals has had such a wonderful impact on veterinary nursing as an academic pathway and as a profession, and with this gift he will continue to impact the lives of our Veterinary Nursing students as they work towards the profession that he cared so much about.”
Looking back at the life and career of Pals, it’s clear just how much he cared for the Program. In a document from 2008, Pals wrote, “My greatest accomplishment at MSU and of my career was organizing the Veterinary Technician Program on campus.” Now, with his generous estate gift and the support of his family, Pals’ legacy and love for the Program live on.
The Pals Family Scholarship helps one DVM and one VN student per year achieve their dream of becoming a veterinary professional. Join the Pals— support the next generation of veterinarians and veterinary nurses.