As a child, Dr. Donna Baer ’83 ’86 ’88 dreamt of being a veterinarian for the usual reasons. “I was like everyone else. I loved puppies and kittens!” Baer recalled. She expressed her interest to her family veterinarian, who encouraged her to excel in school and gain experience with animals. Years passed, and Baer’s dream of caring for animals remained as vivid as ever. She enrolled at Texas A&M University’s College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences in 1980, where she studied rigorously for eight years to earn her three degrees and license to practice.
Thirteen days before her graduation in 1988, Baer was driving to a large animal practice in Navasota, Texas, when a car struck her head-on. Baer believes she would have died if not for local paramedics’ rapid and determined intervention. “The entire left side of my body was paralyzed,” she said, “and my right side was basically crushed.”
Baer spent the next year and a half in inpatient and outpatient hospitalization. Her path to healing was akin to scaling a mountain; she required 39 surgeries altogether. Of all the pain she felt, the worst was missing out on walking across the stage at G. Rollie White Coliseum and receiving the Texas A&M diploma for which she had so tirelessly worked.
Before the accident, Baer passed the national licensing exam required to become a veterinarian, but not the state exam. When she attempted the state test months later, her cognitive injuries greatly disrupted her performance, and she failed. But Baer was set on finishing what she started, and with the help of numerous Aggie faculty members and administrators, she studied as she healed and eventually passed the exam with flying colors.
In the 30 years since, Baer has enjoyed a vibrant career caring for four-legged family members and currently runs a relief veterinary practice in Plano, Texas. In 2019, she decided to show her gratitude for the help she received when she needed it most. Baer and her husband, Richard, committed $1 million through a living trust to fund future gifts for the Stevenson Companion Animal Life-Care Center and the Veterinary Emergency Team, two transformational programs within the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. “Aggies help Aggies,” Baer said. “I want to give back to the university because the people there gave me so much.”
For more information on planning a gift for the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, please contact Brian Harrison '91 by completing the form below.