Classmates and professors with Washington State University’s School of Veterinary Medicine recently honored a Sequim woman’s years of hard work and lifetime love for animals.
Jessica R. Brooks, 26, received a posthumous degree of Doctor of Veterinary Medicine on May 6 following her death in a car wreck on Dec. 27, 2016, near Colfax, while traveling to Sequim from Pullman during her Christmas break in icy conditions.
She was only a few months away from achieving her lifelong ambition of becoming a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, her parents Gary and Suzanne Brooks said. The couple were in attendance at the college’s commencement ceremony and Suzanne received Jessica’s doctorate on her behalf.
Giving the doctorate to Brooks was something staff and students felt she had earned, Suzanne said.
“(Going to commencement) was something we wanted to do not just for our sake, but for the staff and students who have done so much to honor Jes,” Suzanne said.
Fellow graduates, including Brooks’ friend Jessica Kania, decorated and arranged for her seat to be first in the Veterinary Medicine section, too.
To honor Brooks, WSU students also started a fundraiser for an endowment in her name for veterinary students. They set a goal in January to raise $25,000 by graduation and raised more than $35,000.
In the spring of 2018, the first student will receive the “Dr. Jessica Brooks Memorial, Class of 2017, Scholarship,” said Lynne Haley, senior director, development and external relations for Washington State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.
Suzanne said an array of people donated to the scholarship and students held several fundraisers including a bake sale and participated in a marathon.
Haley said the endowment’s 36-month rolling average will be distributed to support a scholarship recipient each year while the rest is re-invested to ensure growth and maintain the fund.
Brooks’ parents said they’re thankful for the community and school support they’ve received in recent months following their daughter’s tragic death.
Her mother said Jessica’s degree is “more than paper, but a memory and closure for the students and staff.”
Brooks was born in Port Angeles and raised in Sequim as second youngest of six children.
While in Sequim, Brooks was home-schooled and later attended Peninsula College before transferring to Western Washington and earning a bachelor’s degree in molecular biology. She started her doctorate in August 2013 at WSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine.
Her parents say she developed a deep love for God and animals early on.
Brooks began helping with local sheep and other farm animals at age 11 and started volunteering at Sequim Animal Hospital at age 14.
Suzanne said her daughter’s time at the hospital helped lead her to become a veterinarian.
“At that point, Jes increased her efforts to accelerate her goal of becoming a veterinarian,” she said. “I will forever be grateful for the veterinarian who opened the world of veterinary medicine to Jes in a very personal way.”
The Brooks said Jessica’s love for God kept her active in several churches and ministries where she happened to be including Sequim Worship Center, Olympic Bible Fellowship, Awana‘s, and many more.
Suzanne said her daughter’s greatest ministry was living everyday with a “quiet, steady, fun-loving personality, and her genuine love and compassion made her special in the hearts of everyone with whom she came in contact.”
She said a WSU professor told her “Jes is still roaming the hallways. Her name is brought up often because people are exchanging stories.”
The couple said they miss their daughter but know they’ll see her again.
“In the meantime, knowing her, she is already enjoying her time with Jesus and all the animals in Heaven while she waits for us,” Suzanne said.
For more information on the scholarship in Brooks’ name, visit http://giving.vetmed.wsu.edu/supporters/more-supporters/jessica-brooks.
Reach Matthew Nash at firstname.lastname@example.org.