’04 Animal Bioscience; Co-Owner, Ebenezer Veterinary Hospital

Why I Give

"I give back because I was given opportunities not a lot of students get. I had such a great experience at Penn State."

Jay's Story

When he's in surgery, he wears a skull cap with the Nittany Lion on it. Every other week, he wears his Penn State tie in the office. His car sports a Penn State Nittany Lions license plate. Though he lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, he returns to campus every year for the Blue-White game.

Jay Hreiz loves his alma mater.

The co-owner of Ebenezer Animal Hospital, Jay Hreiz, VMD, grew up in Quakertown, Pennsylvania. From an early age, he knew he wanted to be a veterinarian. And when he was old enough to think about college, he realized Penn State would give him the opportunity to fulfill that dream.

Hreiz said his first visit to University Park sealed the deal, though it happened under challenging circumstances.

"My father and I arrived on campus to find it closed because of a terrible snow storm, but somehow we managed to get a tour," Hreiz recalled. "It took us five-and-a half-hours to get home that day, but I remember thinking I could picture myself at Penn State."The following fall, Hreiz was enrolled in the animal bioscience program in the Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences.

Taking full advantage of the breadth of the Penn State experience, Hreiz played clarinet in the Blue Band, was a member of the Pre-Veterinary Club for four years -- two of which he served as president -- and also served as vice president of the National Pre-Veterinary Club. He also completed summer internships in the animal diagnostics lab and the microbial lab.

"Penn State set me apart from other people who were applying to vet school at the time," he said. "I got a great education, and I was able to balance my academics with student activities, which made me a strong candidate." Hreiz was accepted into the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, one of 15 Penn State students accepted into veterinary school that year.

In 2008, after graduating from veterinary school, Hreiz moved south and joined the veterinary practice of Ebenezer Animal Hospital, in Rock Hill, South Carolina, a busy and popular small animal practice founded in 1946. Within five years, the hospital's owner decided to retire, giving Hreiz the opportunity to purchase the business. Hreiz was just 31 at the time.

"I never thought I would become a small business owner so soon, but it was such a great opportunity, a chance most early-career veterinarians don't get," Hreiz said. "We're the practice where most of the pet-owner population in the region goes for animal care, and we pride ourselves on providing the most innovative care possible while keeping costs down." The practice has grown by 15-20 percent since Hreiz and his business partner took ownership.

Despite having debt from veterinary school as well as incurring expenses associated with improving the animal hospital, Hreiz said giving back to his alma mater is important to him. He established an annual scholarship, the Dr. Jay E. Hreiz, VMD Scholarship in the College of Agricultural Sciences, to which he will contribute $2,500 per year for five years. First preference will be given to students in the pre-veterinary program.

At some point, Hreiz said he would love to be a resource and mentor for Penn State students. "Veterinary medicine was a calling for me, but veterinary school is very expensive," he pointed out, adding that a small scholarship helped with vet school tuition. "I would like to help students to have realistic goals and help them pursue their calling."

"Though I have two alma maters, my affinity lies with Penn State, where I had so many opportunities and great experiences," he concluded. "I love coming back, seeing all the change and progress. Honestly, I established the scholarship because I just wanted to help someone, so I set aside some funds. I'm happy I can make a little difference."

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