Honoring Michelle

Inspired by her late daughter-in-law’s lifetime of generosity, Linda Holsey has endowed the Michelle Lynn Holsey Scholarship in Biomedical Sciences to provide financial assistance to a student who plans to pursue a medical degree. 

 

Michelle Lynn Holsey and her family

When Michelle Lynn Holsey was diagnosed with stage III breast cancer in 2003, she told her family that she wouldn’t let the disease stop her from helping others.

Her family recalls their days traveling from Crockett to Houston’s M.D. Anderson and how Michelle would always stop to talk to people in the waiting room. She had an especially soft heart for the parents of small children who were also going through their own cancer battles or those who had to miss weeks of work to receive care.

Michelle always went out of her way to strike up conversations and form lasting relationships with the people she met. They’d begin their treatments as strangers, but Michelle easily earned their friendship.

After numerous surgeries, chemotherapy, and radiation treatments—including traveling to Germany for an innovative treatment—her cancer persisted and, sadly, in 2006, Michelle passed away.

“Throughout the entire process, Michelle maintained an attitude of confidence and fought a valiant battle the same way she lived her life with faith, hope, and dignity,” said Linda Holsey, Michelle’s mother-in-law.

Inspired by Michelle’s lifetime of generosity, her family was determined to continue her legacy and ensure that her giving spirit lives on, establishing the Michelle Lynn Holsey Foundation shortly after her passing to assist those battling cancer and other debilitating diseases, while funding innovative treatments and supporting education.

“The foundation has monthly grant meetings at which time qualifying grant applicants are awarded funds to meet their needs, and yearly scholarships are given to graduating seniors in both Houston and Brazos Counties,” Linda said. “The foundation continues to grow and help those in need with the help of various yearly fundraisers and the generosity of the community and friends across the nation.

“Our largest fundraiser is the annual five-day National Cutting Horse Association-sanctioned event held the first week of October, currently at the Brazos County Expo Center, with a steak dinner, live and silent auctions, and a concert on Saturday night of the cutting week,” she said.

Because of Michelle’s experience with some very hardworking doctors, Linda decided to honor Michelle in her own way, by establishing an endowed scholarship in the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences’ (CVM) Biomedical Sciences (BIMS) undergraduate program to help a future medical student.

Giving to Texas A&M is also special to the family because two of Michelle’s daughters—Hannah Lynn Holsey Craycraft and Holly Ann Holsey, as well as son-in-law Clint Craycraft—are Aggie graduates.

“Michelle gave unconditional love and loyalty to everyone she met. She was a source of wisdom, an exemplary role model, a loving mother and wife, and a tireless volunteer to many causes. She unknowingly blessed everyone she came in contact with simply by being herself,” Linda said. “I wanted to create this scholarship to help soon-to-be medical students pay for their education and get off on the right track.”

The BIMS program in the CVM is one of the largest degree-granting majors at Texas A&M, and students in the program explore many aspects of applied biology related to health and disease. Students in the program frequently go on to careers or post-secondary education in fields like medicine, veterinary medicine, or dentistry.

The Michelle Lynn Holsey Scholarship in Biomedical Sciences is one of 12 endowed scholarships in the program.

“The Biomedical Sciences program is very thankful to the family of Michelle Lynn Holsey for this scholarship. Her story is inspirational and many of our students decide to pursue medicine because of patients such as Michelle,” said Dr. Elizabeth Crouch, CVM associate dean for undergraduate education. “The award to be made in her name will assist an undergraduate who has many years of education for which to pay and, when they hear her story, I know they will be further motivated to work hard and succeed both academically and professionally.”

Because the scholarship is endowed, it will provide annual awards to aspiring medical students in perpetuity. The scholarship will be awarded to its first recipient in the fall of 2019.

 

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For more information about the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, please visit our website at vetmed.tamu.edu or join us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Contact Information: Jennifer Gauntt, Interim Director of CVM Communications, Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Science; jgauntt@cvm.tamu.edu; 979-862-4216

Family Establishes Endowment for Late Son, Budding Veterinarian

Sebastian with his dogSebastian Jon Weiskopf had a contagious smile that not only put people at ease, and attracted people to him, but revealed his confidence, strong sense of self, and humility.

One of the things that always brought that smile to Weiskopf’s face was animals.

From the time he was 2 years old, Weiskopf had many pets at home—an Amazon parrot named Peekaboo, two Ragdoll cats named Pudding Paws and Lady Ivory, and a chow named Sophie, as well as three other cats and an assortment of guinea pigs, mice, parakeets.

Weiskopf was on his way home one night while he was serving in the U.S. Army 1st Cavalry Infantry when he encountered a 9-month-old pit bull on the side of the road that had been left for dead after being hit by a car.

“Sebastian took him to the veterinarian and then home to care for him,” said Weiskopf’s father John. “Sebastian nursed Dexter back to health, not only saving his life, but he and Dexter became inseparable friends.”

From a young age, Weiskopf succeeded at everything he did in life.

Playing Little League baseball for nine years and travel ball from the ages of 12-15, Weiskopf was on the all-star team for five years and was named “most valuable player” twice; he was a competitive swimmer for three years, during which he trained for four to five days a week; he played high school football for one year; and he played middle school, junior varsity, and varsity lacrosse, serving as team captain of his middle school team and as one of the team captains on the JV and varsity teams.

Weiskopf also was an avid and skilled fisherman.

“He caught his first large bass, a 15-inch Calico bass, off the Santa Monica Pier on Father’s Day 2000,” John said. “It was clear that he had hooked a sizable fish because of the bend in the rod.  As he reeled it in, about two dozen onlookers gathered around to watch, and as he brought it on the pier, people began to clap and cheer.

Sebastian with his first fish caught“This was Sebastian’s first major fish,” his father bragged. “He was so excited, and embarrassed, by the cheering that he began to cry. Quickly, we measured the Calico and threw it back. He was 7 years old.”

Weiskopf graduated from Chaminade College Preparatory High School in West Hills, California, in May 2011 and then enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving from January 2012 to April 2015 in B Company, 1-12 3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Infantry, stationed at Fort Hood. He also served 11 months in South Korea.

In the military, his commitment to excellence continued.

“He was an expert marksman, one of the three best shots in his company. In his sophomore year of high school, his dream was to enlist in the U.S. military and eventually become a Ranger with special ops,” John said. “Two months before he was discharged from the U.S. Army, his commanding officer called him into his office and told Sebastian that he had recommended Sebastian for the Rangers, special ops training, and the captain’s recommendation had been approved.”

While this had been Weiskopf’s dream for six years, the offer came with the requirement to reenlist for eight or nine years; during those six years, however, Weiskopf had decided he wanted to return to school, so he turned the offer down.

Shortly after leaving the active military and joining the National Guard, A Company, 1st Battalion, 141 Infantry at Camp Bullis, in San Antonio, Texas—where he served for just over two years—Weiskopf enrolled at Houston Community College, where he took classes while working full-time as a senior firearms instructor at Boyert Shooting Center in Westheimer, Houston.

Within a year, Weiskopf was asked to direct the audio-visual virtual reality program and be the director marketing, and he began teaching courses in “License to Carry,” “Handgun Progression Program,” “Rifle Progression Program,” and group handgun courses.

“In November 2016, Sebastian and I spoke on the phone about what he wanted to do with his college education,” John said. “He was private about some things, but I knew that even as a young boy, Sebastian was goal-directed; he set goals and achieved them. So after some prodding, Sebastian replied, ‘I want to be a veterinarian.’

“‘What a great goal!’” John recalled saying.

But Weiskopf’s aspirations went beyond that—he wanted double major, simultaneously earning a business degree.

“‘I figured after I become a vet, I would work for somebody for two to three years and learn the ropes, and then I would set up my own clinic for low-income people who could not afford to bring their pets to a veterinarian,’” Weiskopf had told his father.

He hoped to secure funding through grants, loans, and sponsorships, which would allow him to set up two or three more like it in five years, and then more in 10 years.

Sebastian with his dad“‘What an incredible dream, Sebastian!’” John recalled saying. “You’re 23 now; by 30, you will have your DVM.”

Weiskopf’s goal, however, was tragically cut short, when in 2017, he died in a car accident in the Panhandle.

To honor his love of animals and his desire to become a veterinarian, his parents established the Sebastian Jon Weiskopf Memorial Scholarship fund, which will be awarded for the first time in the fall of 2019 to a veterinary student who is a veteran, the child or the spouse of a veteran who has served or is currently serving in the military; or is a former member of the Texas A&M Corps of Cadets.

“Sebastian always knew what he wanted because he knew himself. He had great instincts and the ability to express himself. He was confident, yet humble,” John said. “Everything he did, he did as close to perfection as possible. Carefree on the outside, but deeply driven on the inside.

“He had a great work ethic and loyalty—to his country, his family, his friends, and to the direction where he saw himself moving, a space where he could give back,” John said.

Endowment Honors Retired Animal Genomics Professor

Though Dr. Jim Womack, a distinguished professor emeritus in the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences’ (CVM) Department of Veterinary Pathobiology retired last year after 40 years of service, his legacy has continued both through his influence on his students and now through the establishment of the Jim Womack Endowed Fund in Animal Genomics.

Womacks
Dr. Jim Womack and wife Raby at his retirement party last August

The endowment was established following recent communications and actions by several of Womack’s students, who chose to honor Womack for the impact he made in the classroom and in his laboratory; many of his former students are now researchers and educators. Womack also received many awards and recognition during his many years as researcher and educator.

When the endowment matures, which is anticipated to occur within 18-24 months, distributions will be used to support one or more full‐time graduate students in animal genomics research within the CVM.

The fund may be used toward graduate student tuition, travel to present research at a scientific conference, and/or the purchase of supplies, special equipment, or services required for graduate research.

Those interested in contributing to the fund may do so online at https://www.txamfoundation.com/give.aspx by selecting “An unlisted account (enter manually)” and entering “04‐58396 Jim Womack Endowed Fund in Animal Genomics,” as well as the amount you wish to donate. The online donation can be completed by following the remaining instructions.

Donations also can be made by check, payable to Texas A&M Foundation and mailed to: College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Office of Development, 4461 TAMU, College Station, Texas, 77843‐4461. Please include “04‐58396 Jim Womack Endowed Fund in Animal Genomics” in the memo line.

A printable donation form can be found here.

Jim and wife Raby invite all past students, associates, and colleagues to visit them when in the Bryan‐College Station area.

Klemm Encourages Veterinary Research Through Endowment

Dr. William KlemmGiving comes in all forms, shapes and sizes.

Dr. William Klemm, a senior professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences’ (CVM) Veterinary Integrative Biosciences (VIBS) department, has given his time and talents to thousands of students over the years.

And now, his way of giving comes in the form of a scholarship.

Through his gift, Klemm will provide a salary for veterinary students who use their summers to do research under the supervision of a faculty mentor.

“My career in biomedical research has been very fulfilling, but I did not realize this would be the case as a student because I had so little exposure to research,” he said. “Through this scholarship, I want to help other veterinary students have a research experience so they can discover early on if research is something they, too, might become passionate about.”

Klemm began his education at the University of Tennessee, and after receiving early admission to veterinary school, earned his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree at Auburn University, of which he is now a distinguished alumnus.

But it wasn’t until he became the veterinarian at the Air Force base at which he was stationed and was named head of the human hospital’s diagnostic laboratory that he was introduced to research through journals he read in the hospital’s library.

“I was somewhat surprised that my veterinary education prepared me to understand what I was reading,” he said. “In the process, I became interested in research and discovered I had a capacity for it, so I decided to go to graduate school. Veterinary school prepared me for that, too.”

At the University of Notre Dame, Klemm received his Ph.D. in biology and then began his career in academia. After an assistant professorship at Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine, he came to the Texas A&M University Department of Biology in 1966, where he taught introductory biology and created two upper-level physiology courses before moving to the VIBS department as a professor of neuroscience.

While he finds teaching fulfilling, research, he said, “is my first love.”

“I went on to the veterinary school at Auburn blind to the world of research. I wasn’t exposed much to research at Auburn either. So, I lost a few years before I discovered what my calling was,” Klemm said. “I created the scholarship, and a similar one at Auburn, so that at least a few students might engage the world of research early on in their education and perhaps discover a calling they might otherwise miss. At the two institutions, around 15 students have thus far participated.”

He retired from Texas A&M 17 years ago but has continued to work part-time through the CVM’s PEER program and teaching various neuroscience courses. He currently teaches 400-level courses, including the online course “Core Ideas in Neuroscience” (VIBS 407) and “Neuroscience and Religion” (VIBS 408).

“My goal in teaching is to help students grow in competence and confidence,” Klemm said. “When that happens, I feel as if I have done my job.”

He also continues to mentor his young students, especially those in the “Neuroscience and Religion” course.

“I know this is an unorthodox subject, but it has major impact on students, and on me, too,” he said. “I have explained all that in a recently published paper aimed at encouraging other universities to create such a course.”

Aside from teaching and research, Klemm said he hopes investing in students will make a difference in their lives. He also hopes that other faculty members will follow in his footsteps by endowing a scholarship of their own.

“You can’t take it with you,” he said. “Donated money can position a student for a fulfilling career that they might otherwise miss. Even if they don’t become a scientist, they get a little spending money which they surely need to finish college. What is a better use of your dime than that?”