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UM News
December 10, 2012


When Mary Drenning begins her coursework at The University of Montana in January, she hopes to bring $100,000 with her. Drenning, an incoming student in UM’s Pre-Medical Sciences Program, is a top-10 finalist for the 2012 Dr Pepper Tuition Giveaway.

The Dr Pepper Tuition Giveaway accepted one-minute video pitches from students across the country to explain why they deserve to win a $100,000 scholarship. Of the top-10 finalists, the top five whom receive votes from the public will get the chance to throw for the scholarship at the Discover BCS National Championship Game on Monday, Jan. 7.

Drenning, who hopes to become a veterinarian, is up against students pursuing careers as teachers, engineers, social workers and more. Members of the public can vote for finalists each day, once with an email or social-networking account, and once with a special Twitter hashtag.

Drenning first heard about the competition after doing a Google search for scholarships. Her brother helped her film the one-minute video pitch in the August heat of Orlando, Fla., where Drenning attends Valencia College. Luckily, it wasn’t difficult to come up with something to say in her pitch.

“I’m passionate,” she said. “I can talk for hours about wanting to be a vet.”

Drenning has wanted to come to Montana since childhood. When she was 13 years old she started researching universities in the state. After she discovered that UM offered a bachelor’s degree in ecology and organismal biology, she knew Missoula was the right destination.

“At most universities, you can get a biology or chemistry degree, but you have to take all the pre-vet classes separately,” she said. “In the UM program, all the classes are built into the degree.”

By acquiring her pre-veterinary requirements within her degree program, Drenning can save time and money on the long journey to becoming a veterinarian. She already received a $2,500 scholarship through Dr Pepper for making it to the tuition giveaway finals, but the full prize wouldn’t hurt.

The Pre-Medical Sciences Program is an advising program within the UM College of Health Professions and Biomedical Sciences. The program helps students become well-informed, well-prepared applicants to health professions schools in disciplines such as dentistry, osteopathic medicine, veterinary medicine and optometry.

Voting is open until Dec. 17, and Drenning’s video can be viewed online at She currently is in eighth place. For more information call Drenning at 321-439-9072 or email For more information on UM’s Pre-Medical Advising Program, visit





Contact: Mary Denning, incoming UM student, 321-439-9072, .