UNION, NJ – Union High School senior Mya-Nicole Brooks received a $750 scholarship from Shake a Paw to help her pursue her animal science studies at Rutgers University next fall.

“Mya-Nicole was an easy candidate to select for the scholarship,” said Jeff Morton, President, Shake A Paw.  “Her academics were excellent, she had participated in several animal related extracurricular activities, and has selected to continue her dream of becoming a veterinarian.”

“Animal science was one of my first and most prominent interests growing up,” said Brooks.   She said as a child she couldn’t have a dog or cat, but had three pet parakeets, who taught her the joys and wonders of animal life.  Brooks said she also watched every animal-related show she could find on television.

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Brooks said she has continued to nurture her interest in animal science over the years by participating in activities that cater to her curiosity, whether it be joining an animal activist club at school, attending a summer course dedicated to veterinary medicine, horseback riding, or simply researching different branches of animal science. “I also want to aid in diversifying the field, since there are very few people of color who practice veterinary medicine,” Brooks added.  “Growing up, watching these animal-related shows and attending academic activities that focused on animal science, I didn’t see many people who looked like me. I want this to be part of the change that diversifies this field for the sake of future generations of aspiring veterinarians.”

“Shake a Paw is pleased to award our 2020 Animal Care Scholarship to a full-time Union High School senior who will be attending an accredited institution and will be enrolling in courses that contribute to the caring, treatment and well-being of animals in their field of study,” said Morton.

Brooks attended Battle Hill Elementary, Burnet Middle School, and Union High School, “each having its own unique role in my personal growth.”  At Union High School, Brooks said she was fortunate to have several supportive teachers, counselors, and staff members who helped make the transition from middle school to high school, and now the transition from high school to adulthood relatively smooth. “I have created some fond memories at high school, particularly with my friends, and in the school organizations that I participated in along the way.”  She said although her senior year was cut short because of COVID-19, he feels confident as a graduate of Union High School “knowing that I did the best that I could with the - seemingly short - four years of high school.”

“This scholarship means that I am one step closer to achieving my dreams in becoming a veterinarian,” said Brooks.  “I am grateful for the opportunity to be a recipient of the scholarship and it will aid in easing the financial burden for my family.”  Brooks said she has two siblings, one currently in college and the other who graduated last year.  “This scholarship will ultimately help my family and I lessen the inevitable debt from college expenses.”