Meghan Ambrozevich-Blair was killed on the A1 near Dunbar when her car collided with another vehicle as she drove to work the day after her final exam.
Last December’s the Edinburgh Napier University student was travelling northbound on the A1 when her car collided with a Ford Transit pick-up during rush hour.
In a statement, Meghan’s family said: “We are extremely proud of our daughter’s achievement.
“Meghan worked so hard at university, on placements and overseas, learning about, and caring for animals. Her dyslexia and dyscalculia meant she had to work harder than most to keep up with her fellow students.
“Even from a very young age, it was clear that Meghan loved animals. She was always drawn to the leftovers and the misfits, the runts that nobody else wanted.
“Meghan’s loss has affected all the family deeply, but we take comfort from the fact that all the creatures in animal heaven are being very well cared for.”
Meghan’s close friend and Edinburgh Napier colleague Kirsty Dougherty said: “Meghan was a special friend, warm-hearted and fun, and generous with her laughter and enthusiasm. The world seemed like a kinder place when she was around, not only to her friends and family but for her animal patients too. Her compassion and energy were boundless – she is sorely missed.”
Ms Ambrozevich-Blair was a keen volunteer at vet nursing open days and had been part of a team from the university which visited Kerala, India, in 2015 to help develop local interest in animal welfare and training vet nurses.
Academic staff at the university said she achieved the top grading through “hard work and good humour”.
Life sciences programme leader Dr David Smith said: “She was on track to be one of the outstanding students in the history of the programme, not just academically - her profile shows straight merits - but also in being at the forefront of showing what veterinary nurses can do.
“The slogan Meghan provided for the School of Applied Sciences’ pop-up banner - Edinburgh Napier gives you the opportunity to become the best veterinary nurse you can be - sums her up well.”
Dr Smith, who taught Meghan for four years, added: “She was always on the front row, eager and willing to go.
“She usually had a lovely big smile on her face - unless she wasn’t quite satisfied with your answer to her questions.
“She will be sadly missed by the staff of Edinburgh Napier University and the college of animal welfare.”
The 26-year-old, from Dunbar, previously studied at Barony Agricultural College, Dumfries, and was also involved in campaigning against animal cruelty and fundraising for the Scottish SPCA.
Her close friend and Edinburgh Napier colleague Kirsty Dougherty said: “Meghan was a special friend, warm-hearted and fun, and generous with her laughter and enthusiasm.
“The world seemed like a kinder place when she was around, not only to her friends and family but for her animal patients too. Her compassion and energy were boundless - she is sorely missed.”