A Gilbert native and Williams Field High School graduate will share in $542,000 in scholarships at Oklahoma State University’s Center for Veterinary Health Sciences – and it couldn’t come at a better time, school officials said.

Marisa Litherland, a first-year veterinary student received a Walter Sitlington Scholarship in recognition of her high academic achievements.

“These scholarships are critical in helping with the ever- rising cost of obtaining” a doctorate in veterinary medicine,” said Dr. Margi Gilmour, associate dean for academic affairs.

OSU’s Center for Veterinary Health Sciences is the only veterinary college in Oklahoma and one of 30 veterinary colleges in the United States.

The daughter of Dena and Brian Litherland of Gilbert, Marisa graduated from high school in and graduated from Oklahoma State University last May with a B.S. in animal science and a minor in microbiology.

Expressing gratitude for the scholarship, she told GSN that  while she has wanted to be a veterinarian since she was a little girl, she has pondered different specialties

“As a child, I wanted to be a veterinarian, working with dogs and cats,” she said. “In high school, my aspirations evolved into specializing in equine veterinary medicine. Since then, I have become increasingly interested in zoological medicine; wanting to work with wildlife and conservation organizations.”

And while she is open to the possibility that she might change her mind again, it doesn’t really matter as long as she is caring for animals.

“No matter what direction I choose to go in, through veterinary medicine, I will have the ability to express my love and compassion for all animals,” Litherland said, adding:

“Today, my goal is to get my doctorate in veterinary medicine, specializing in zoological and small animal medicine. To further my career, I would like to continue with a residency program whose focus is zoological medicine.”

Litherland views her intended profession expansively, saying that while it involves “loving animals compassionately,” vets also “contribute and impact society in diverse ways.”

“Veterinarians aid in the reduction of animal and zoonotic diseases by giving vaccinations, treating sick animals, and educating the public on proper care of their animals. Upon completion of the DVM program in May 2022, I will be able to share my compassion and knowledge with others to better animal and human health/well-being,” she said.

Litherland is married to Matthew Sutterfield, an Oklahoma native she met as a freshman and who is double-majoring in aerospace and mechanical engineering.

In high school, she was involved in a variety of sports and clubs – including two years as student body treasurer and then president in her senior year.

She was in the Williams Field band, playing flute, piccolo and oboe –  and lettered in soccer and softball.

She’s no less busy now.

As a freshman in college, she was a resident advisor and has worked in various animal clinics in addition to holding a position at the Oklahoma Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory in the bacteriology section.

She also is involved with various research projects involving parasite contamination of zoonotic pathogens within the community and is treasurer of the Zoo, Exotic and Wildlife Club.

Marisa Litherland