The Randolph & Aline Higgins Scholarship

NJ Veterinary Student Scholarship Program
Presented by the New Brunswick Kennel Club

Dear Dean,

The New Brunswick Kennel Club has established a scholarship program for NJ Veterinary Students. Funds are accrued throughout the year from our programs and through the generosity of the Higgins family. However, we need your help to identify and give this application to an eligible postgraduate NJ student. (See Eligibility below.)

If you have postgraduate NJ students who are interested in applying for the scholarship, please have them complete the application and send it to the chairman of the Scholarship Committee (below). If the student receives the scholarship but changes addresses for the Dean or financial office, please tell our chairman. Please retain this revised scholarship application package indefinitely until revoked by the New Brunswick Kennel Club.

Chairman's Address is: Diana Henry, NBKC Scholarship Co-Chair, 28 Lawrence Brook Drive, East Brunswick, NJ, 08816, Email:

Eligibility and Award

A scholarship of $1,500.00 will be awarded to a qualifying student. The student must be entering their third or fourth year of a post-graduate Veterinary program of an accredited University or Veterinary school. The scholarship is available to any NJ Veterinary student attending a Veterinary School. The deadline for applications every year will be December 22nd and every December 22nd thereafter. Please retain for your files and update your information whenever it changes.

Thank you very much for your cooperation.

New Brunswick Kennel Club Scholarship Committee


Process for selecting a winner

The scholarship committee will meet at the end of January every year to determine the winner.

  • 1. The committee will accept completed applications only.  Applicant will receive an email from committee Chairperson when Chairperson is in receipt of their completed application.  A completed application includes:

    • a. Application completely filled out – additional sheets may be attached.      
    • b. Two letters of reference - one should be personal and one should be of an academic nature (School, Administration, Faculty, Veterinarians  etc).    
      The personal reference should not be from members of the applicant's family.
    • c. Official veterinary school transcripts (any breaks of school attendance must be explained).
    • d. NJ Residency Proof (copy of Driver License or a Photo State ID Card)
    • e. Two Essays:  See application for topics

  • 2. The committee will judge the applicant based on the documentation received re: the following categories/criteria for evaluation:

    a. Essays c. Two Letters of Reference e. Career Goals
    b. Accademic Excellence (3.0 min.) d. Community Service and Volunteer Activities f. Demonstrated Financial Need

  • 3. The committee will arrive at a consensus winner and present the winner's name at a board meeting in November of every year. The winner will be notified after the selection is made. The check will be issued to the bursar's office. The winner will be responsible for forwarding school information to the club treasurer no later than December 1st.

Printable Application


Chandler Navara

Chandler Navara "This past year has been a roller coaster of a ride, but I am excited to say that I will be finishing up my 4th year at the University of Pennsylvania shortly. Even though COVID threw a wrench in our clinical year, I was still able to participate in numerous wildlife and exotics externships including Fossil Rim Wildlife Center in Glen Rose, TX and Adventure Aquarium in Camden, NJ. I am originally from East Brunswick, NJ and plan to return nearby to practice at a mixed animal hospital. I hope to eventually break into the field of wildlife and conservation medicine, ideally in NJ, of course! I also plan to continue volunteering my time at local shelters and wildlife rescues to give back to the very animals that inspired me. Thank you very much for selecting me as the 2021 NBKC Scholarship Recipient!"


Chandler Navara

Chandler Navara Hello! My name is Chandler Navara and I am from East Brunswick, NJ, where I grew up and my family still resides. I am currently a 3rd year student at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. I got my Bachelor's and Master's degree from Lehigh University in Environmental Science and then came back to work in Old Bridge, NJ, as a technician at the Route 516 Animal Hospital before continuing onto my veterinary degree. My miniature dachshund, Rudy, is my favorite member of my family but I have also owned a variety of other animals over the years. After graduation, I plan to work in the field of wildlife and conservation medicine, ideally back in NJ, to start a family of my own. I currently volunteer at a local animal shelter and various wildlife rescues, where I will continue to give back once I am a veterinarian. Whenever I have free time, I like to find funky restaurants, play soccer, and spend time at the beach. Thank you for selecting me to be the New Brunswick Kennel Club 2020 Scholarship recipient!


Daniel Sandoval

Daniel Sandoval My name is Daniel Sandoval and I am currently a third-year veterinary student at the University of Pennsylvania. I am originally from East Windsor, New Jersey and I attended the Peddie high school of Hightstown, New Jersey. Following high school, I traveled to Connecticut where I attended college and followed my passion for playing soccer. Post college graduation, I returned home to New Jersey and spent a gap year working at NorthStar VETS in Robbinsville, New Jersey before beginning veterinary school. After my time at the University of Pennsylvania, I plan on pursuing a rotating internship then a residency in small animal surgery. In my spare time I enjoy running, weight lifting, playing soccer, reading non-veterinary related literature and exploring Philadelphia with my significant other. Thank you so much for selecting me as your New Brunswick Kennel Club Scholarship Recipient!


Charlotte Burns

Charlotte Burnes My name is Charlotte Burns and I am a third year veterinary student at Penn Vet. I am originally from New Jersey and received my undergraduate degree in biology from Drexel University. My veterinary interests include shelter medicine and emergency and critical care. My career goal is to become a criticalist and provide emergency medicine in a shelter setting. In my free time I enjoy exploring New York City with my significant other and spending quality time with our cat, Khan. Thank you so much for selecting me as your New Brunswick Kennel Club Scholarship Recipient!


Emma Schaffel

Emma Schafel I was born in Hackensack, New Jersey and lived there for ten years before moving to Ramsey, also located in Bergen County. I always had a great love for animals and owned countless pets, something my parents patiently put up with. Many foster dogs came through our home, each one teaching me something and encouraging my passion for helping animals. Throughout middle school and high school I rode and showed horses, and eventually taught riding lessons to children. I shadowed a horse veterinarian in high school and wanted to be an equine veterinarian. I went to Clemson University and graduated with an Animal Science degree in 2013. My time at Clemson was amazing and allowed me to experience new veterinary opportunities. I became very involved with the Dairy Science Club and began showing the university�s heifers at local and state fairs. I was very close with one of my professors, and she encouraged me to pursue my interest in dairy medicine. The club traveled throughout the United States to attend conferences and competitions and was a great learning opportunity. During my time at Clemson, I also rode on the Equestrian Team and anticipated that as a future veterinarian I would incorporate some horse work into my practice. I started veterinary school at the University of Tennessee in August 2013. I joined a variety of clubs and decided that large animal medicine was the path I wanted to follow. I did an externship after my first year of school at a large animal practice in upstate New York. I became a much better palpator over the course of that month and had great mentorship. I went to South America the summer after second year to pursue my large animal interests. I started in Colombia where I worked at a bull collection facility and learned about reproductive techniques. I then made my way down to the southern highlands of Peru where I worked with an organization dedicated to improving the health of alpacas in the region. I had previously little experience with these animals, but the experience encouraged me to develop an interest in camelid medicine. During my third year, I took a large animal reproduction elective where I was allowed to breed both cows and horses and became more efficient at palpation and pregnancy diagnosis. My mentors at UT encouraged my large animal interests and gave great career advice. I am just a couple months shy of graduating from vet school, and am excited to see where my career takes me. This has been a long journey and I have been fortunate to have such supportive people along the way who believed in me. There are challenges that come with being a new veterinarian and I am ready to start my career in this rewarding profession.


Matthew Cook

I am currently a 3rd year veterinary student at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. A native of Freehold, NJ, I graduated from the Academy of Allied Health and Science in Neptune, NJ and went on to and graduated from Loyola University Maryland in 2012. While in veterinary school, I conducted research on swine vocalization patterns and was selected to present the results of that work at the 2013 American Association of Swine Veterinarians Annual Conference in Dallas, Texas. I also spent a summer working at the Vet and Agric Consultants Clinic in Gaborone, Botswana where I had the opportunity to gain international experience working with small animals and wildlife in Africa. After graduating from veterinary school, I hope to complete an internship and residency to work towards a career in small animal emergency and critical care. Aside from veterinary school, I enjoy traveling, reading, supporting the New York Yankees and Giants, and hanging out with my Bull Mastiff, Lola.

Our 2013 Scholarship Winner

Chelsea Opdyke

This year's winner of the New Brunswick Kennel Club Scholarship is Chelsea Opdyke. Chelsea's home is in Lambertville, New Jersey when she is not attending the University of Tennessee CVM. She is a graduate of Hunterdon Central Regional High School and graduated early (3.5 yrs.) from West Virginia University. After graduation, Chelsea hopes to work at a mixed animal practice. She would like to return to the clinic that she has been working at for the past four and half years.

Our 2014 Scholarship Winner

Katie Pesce

I am currently a 4th year at The University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine and am excited to graduate in May. My other passion in life aside from veterinary medicine is cooking. I am very adventurous and am happy doing any outdoor activity, although taking my Great Dane, Bella, to the beach is my favorite. I have lived in Hillsborough, NJ my entire life and am returning to NJ to complete an internship program at Red Bank Veterinary Hospital upon graduation. My ultimate goal is to complete a residency in neurology. I would also like to provide veterinary care for working dogs, such as Seeing Eye dogs and Police K-9 units in addition to practicing neurology.

Michelle Zappacosta is a former recipient of our Scholarship Program

Growing up as a horse-crazy little girl in South Jersey, my dreams for a future career never included becoming a veterinarian. But now I couldn't imagine doing anything but.

My love for the sciences began in high school at Our Lady of Mercy Academy thanks to my marine biology and anatomy teacher, Mrs. Coppinger. I then moved on to the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey and received my Bachelors of Science in Biology. It was my advisor, Dr. Ralph Werner, at Stockton that planted the seed that placed veterinary medicine on my radar map. Why would I want to be that? I didn't even really understand a vet's job.

My family adopted a wonderful dog named Cydney my senior year in high school. Not until a few years later when I became panicked over a scare in her health did I really come to realize how important our veterinarian was in Cydney and my lives. So I finally gave in to my Stockton advisor's advice on giving veterinary medicine a try. I shadowed Dr. Robin Love at Bethel Mill Animal Hospital - and haven't looked back since. I've been working there for 4 years now, and I am starting my third year at the University of Pennsylvania's School of Veterinary Medicine.

While I enjoy the bond created with the animals we care for, I truly love meeting their owner's and view our relationship as partners in caring for their pets. Surgery is also a passion of mine, and although I have not eliminated the possibility of becoming a specialist, I truly enjoy the range of care and treatments I would have as a general practitioner. I must admit that I’m partial to dogs; currently I am working with PennHIP to research and discover ways to lessen the prevalence of canine hip dysplasia.

I wouldn't be where I am without the love and support of my great family, influential teachers, and the spark from that little brown dog named Cydney.


Michelle Zappacosta accepting this years scholarship at the NBKC show presented by Donna Welty.