A Season of Giving

Dec. 14, 2022

How Generosity Can Build a Stronger Future

The Roccas with Dean Funk and Development officer Hannah Long
the roccas as CAC

Leo and Chris Rocca first learned about the College of Veterinary Medicine when Dean Julie Funk, and former Director of Development, Marianne Hadden, spoke to the Tucson Saddle Club. Impressed by the direction of the college, Leo and Chris felt that supporting the College of Veterinary Medicine was a natural fit. “In our case, we had the good fortune of enjoying the company of a lot of dogs and a few cats and a whole bunch of horses. And so, we feel like we’re a natural fit at this stage of our lives to take the place of supporter rather than participant, which we were at one time.”

The happy couple has a long history and relationship with animals and even met and fell in love through a shared enjoyment of horses. “We started together because I was playing polo, and Chris was the only gal I knew that wasn’t afraid of the horses... [And] in a few months, if the Lord’s will all goes well, we’ll clock 62 years together.” Their life together has been a journey filled with world travel, family, and gathering a host of pets along the way. Their long-term love of animals and the admiration and appreciation for the veterinarians they befriended and relied on as pet owners is evidenced by their passion for supporting the future of the veterinary profession.

Leo and Chris believe in the college’s mission and have invested in educating future veterinary professionals who can serve Arizona and beyond. Aside from financial donations, Leo and Chris volunteer their time to support the admissions office and assess candidates during the supplemental review process. When asked why they believed it is essential to support programs like the Arizona College of Veterinary Medicine, Leo said,

“Well, all your life, you worked, and you had to invest your money if you were in business as I was. And so, the natural thing is, well, now we invest it this way, and we create a return on that capital employed through everything we see here at the University of Arizona College of Veterinary Medicine.”

For the Roccas, each season of life brings opportunities, and they chose to seize their chance to give back and support the next generation of young professionals.

Investing in the future also means providing a chance for students to pursue their dream—despite financial difficulties. “One of the things that brings me joy is that some young people will have access to education that they might not have had…and the world would have lost a few or a lot of good vets,” said Chris. Scholarships provide a window of opportunity for individuals of all backgrounds to pursue veterinary medicine as a profession and ultimately serve their communities.

“The donor side of it is a very important piece of the puzzle. I mean, look at any university, the foundations that are needed that to create income to achieve the goals of the institution, whatever it might be, from small college to a large university. The donor piece of is exceedingly important.”

The Arizona College of Veterinary Medicine is incredibly grateful to have the support of generous individuals who believe in our mission. Because of partners like the Roccas who choose to capitalize on their season of giving, we can provide our students with a bold new approach to learning and practicing veterinary medicine.