Winter 2015

Double the Impact

Financial Aid Initiative helps students like Kevin Connolly, V15, pursue their aspirations

By Laura Ferguson

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A scholarship helped Kevin Connolly, V15, retool his career path to combine his love of animals with research to help them live well. Photo: Kelvin Ma

With a Ph.D. in biochemistry and microbiology, Kevin Connolly could easily have settled into a career in industry or academia. Instead, at age 39, he went back to school to become a veterinarian.

“Maybe I did veterinary school the nontraditional way by going to graduate school first, but I’m glad I did,” says Connolly, who will receive his D.V.M. from Cummings School in May. “I can see now what I want to be and what I want to do—combine my love of teaching and research with being a veterinarian at a referral hospital or in an academic setting.”

His reimagined career path has been made possible by an endowed scholarship that honors the late Charles D. Havens, A69, an insurance executive who loved animals, was an equestrian and served as vice president of the Scottish Terrier Club of New England.

Following his death, Hope Havens chose Cummings School to receive donations in her husband’s memory. Friends, colleagues and his longtime employer, the insurance company Unum, established the Charles D. Havens Scholarship Fund in 2002 with gifts totaling more than $67,000.

Now the fund has grown nearly fivefold, thanks to an anonymous contribution of $200,000. That gift was doubled, to $400,000, because it was eligible for Tufts University’s matching-gift program to generate additional financial aid for students.

“Maybe I did veterinary school the nontraditional way by going to graduate school first, but I’m glad I did.” —Kevin Connolly, V15

The Financial Aid Initiative will match any newly established scholarship of $100,000 or more or a donation of at least that amount to an existing scholarship fund. The goal is to raise $50 million over the next two years. The campaign seeks to close the affordability gap for gifted students who want a Tufts education.

Cummings School was Connolly’s top choice, in part because of its research reputation. He knew about the pioneering work of Lisa Freeman, J86, V91, N96, who heads the clinical nutrition service at the Foster Hospital for Small Animals. He’s worked with Freeman and veterinary nutritionist Cailin Heinze on a study of how much dog breeders know about nutrition.

“At this point in my career, I could not have realized my dream of veterinary school if it were not for the financial support,” says Connolly, who grew up in North Haven, Connecticut, and worked on a sheep farm during high school.

After earning his undergraduate degree in anthropology from Brown University, he went to UCLA to pursue his doctorate. He worked as a consultant for a vitamin and supplements manufacturer, yet he found himself becoming more interested in veterinary nutrition and physiology.

“I’d been around animals my whole life, but in terms of figuring out how to help them, I was very interested in learning more,” he says. “Veterinary school was a natural next step because it would open up opportunities to answer questions about their care and well-being.”

Connolly is equally impressed with his Cummings School classmates. “I love being surrounded by people who are eager to learn,” he says. He participates in student activities, even as he juggles the demands of school and family. He and his wife have two young children and two whippets.

“Tufts is everything I hoped it would be,” he says.

Laura Ferguson can be reached at

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