Veterinary student from Del Mar receives $50,000 scholarship

Giulia Lanza-Billetta
(Copyright of Giulia Lanza-Billetta)

Giulia Lanza-Billetta, who grew up in Del Mar, received the Steve Marton Veterinary Student scholarship as she continues her veterinary studies at UC Davis.

The scholarship, worth $50,000 and awarded to three students around the country, is named after a former chairman of PetSmart Charities’ board of directors. It is geared toward second- and third-year veterinary students who want to use their skills to benefit underserved areas, which aligns with Lanza-Billetta’s goals.

After starting at UC Santa Barbara, Lanza-Billetta attended MiraCosta College for a year and graduated from UC San Diego. She planned on going into human medicine until her senior year, then she started working at Palomar Medical Center, but didn’t like it as much as she thought she would.

“That’s when the idea of going into vet med came back, so then I started working at a clinic in Encinitas,” Lanza-Billetta said. “I worked there for a year, and then I moved to L.A. and worked at a nonprofit. I worked as a tech in both of those clinics, and then I applied to Davis and I got into that school and now I’m in my third year at Davis.”

Lanza-Billetta attended Del Mar Hills Academy (Elementary School), Earl Warren Middle School and then graduated from Canyon Crest Academy in 2014. She is on pace to graduate in 2024 from the veterinary medicine program at UC Davis.

“My longterm goal is to work in low-income medicine,” Lanza-Billetta added. “I think I want to start in shelter medicine and then the longterm dream would be to start my own nonprofit one day.”

She added, “I was born and raised in San Diego, and so I think I’m ready to move out of California. So I’m looking at a few different states, possibly Colorado or Oregon or Texas.”

According to PetSmart Charities, the scholarship is meant to make veterinary education more accessible to address the approximately 50 million pets that don’t have access to basic care.

“Many students pursuing this noble profession finish veterinary school with crushing debt,” Aimee Gilbreath, president of PetSmart Charities, said in a statement. “Awarding these scholarships encourages talented students to follow their heart’s passion. If we can help current students reduce the debt they incur, they’re in a better position to devote a portion of their time and talent to delivering accessible care to communities particularly at risk.”

PetSmart Charities also provides grant funding for other organizations that advocate and care for the well-being of all pets and their families.

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