Sophie Liu ’17 is the 2015-16 Westminster Kennel Club (WKC) Foundation Scholar from Cornell. The $15,000 scholarship includes an all-expenses-paid trip to the 2016 Westminster Kennel Club annual dog show. Since 1990, the WKC Foundation has awarded $1.43 million in a total of 145 veterinary school scholarships to eligible veterinary students. For Liu, attending the famous dog show was, “a dream come true…it was an experience I'll never forget.”
Hailing from Oakland, Calif., with a special interest in behavior and canine medicine as well as a passion for education, Liu plans to become board-certified in behavior medicine after a few years in private practice. “I think there's enormous opportunity to improve our community by raising awareness of and addressing behavior issues, as well as crafting highly skilled working animals,” she says. “At the end of the day, I believe that every animal is tied to human society by its behavior, and every animal’s mental wellbeing guides its physical wellbeing. So, by emphasizing mental wellness, I hope to improve human-animal relationships through creative behavioral approaches.”
As a veterinary student, Liu has focused herself in canine sports medicine, canine cognition, genetics, training and behavior. She also participates in 4H activities teaching youth about dogs, coordinates speakers, and leads handling classes at Cornell. Liu holds leadership positions with the Animal Behavior Club, the Dog Sports Club, and VOICE (Veterinarians One in Culture and Ethnicity) and a member of SAVMA and AVSAB (Society of Animal Behavior).
Liu got news of the scholarship from her parents, who received the award letter. “They don’t speak English, so they didn't understand it and almost threw the letter away,” she says. Thankfully, my mom texted me a picture of the letter—I immediately called them to explain what it was. They were so happy, and I think that's what made everything worth it. It's a very humbling experience to be recognized for just doing things that you love, and I was so glad that my parents could share that joy with me. . . Receiving this award has been a great reminder that what we do matters, and it's a wonderful motivator to keep pushing to do the best thing.”