Dr. Kwane Stewart, a University of New Mexico alumnus (’93), was recently named CNN’s 2023 Hero of the Year for his work providing veterinary care to the pets of people experiencing homelessness in California.
“As I get older, I start thinking about those big questions in life: Why are we here? What defines us? Why are we human? And I think the answer, at least for me, the answer is in the question, what does it mean to be human, and I believe it’s humanity. It’s looking out for each other, believing in each other, helping one another,” Stewart said in his acceptance speech at the CNN Hero of the Year awards.
Stewart has provided free veterinary care to the pets of people experiencing homelessness for a decade. He co-founded Project Street Vet, a 501(c)(3) dedicated to that work, with his brother Ian Stewart in 2020. The organization has teams and volunteers who do street vet work and organize pet clinics in Atlanta, San Diego, Los Angeles, Santa Cruz, Orlando and Webster, Florida to help people who might struggle to afford the services otherwise.
Watch Dr. Kwane Stewart's acceptance speech at the CNN Hero of the Year awards.
The award comes with a $100,000 prize, which Stewart announced he would like to split evenly among the nine other CNN Hero finalists. The CNN Hero of the Year is also named the Elevate Prize Winner by the Elevate Prize Foundation, which comes with an award of $300,000 in unrestricted funding.
Stewart closed with a story about a day he brought a sandwich to an unhoused man whose pet he had treated.
“He tore off a corner of it, really just a piece of bread. He ate it and he gave the rest to his dog. They’ve taught me a lot too, ” Stewart said at the awards ceremony. “I’ll close by saying this. An act of kindness can change your day, change someone’s day. An act or gesture of kindness can change someone’s life.”
Stewart earned a bachelor of science in Biology with a minor in Chemistry from UNM in 1993 before attending the Colorado State Veterinary Program. He has more than 20 years of veterinary experience in California.