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The College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM) has launched a new scholarship to encourage students from historically underrepresented groups to study veterinary medicine. This is part of his effort to motivate more diverse students to attend CVM or enter the profession.
Veterinary medicine remains one of the least diversified professions, a subject the college deals with. Fostering inclusion and support for students from historically underrepresented communities early in their education – with an emphasis on the pipeline of potential students applying for veterinary school – is seen as key to diversifying the subject.
“Given the discussions about increasing diversity, I thought, what can I do?” Said Dr. Paul Maza, lecturer in anatomy. “And we talked about how we can increase diversity in our own courses.”
This led to the creation of a new scholarship to support underrepresented students attending the Precollege summer course Veterinary Medicine: Small Animal Practice from summer 2022.
This three-week course offers three college credits and covers topics such as anatomy and physiology and their clinical applications in veterinary medicine. In hands-on laboratories, students can experience some of the activities they would find in veterinary school, such as: B. Anatomy, imaging, physical examination, suturing and bandaging laboratories, and CPR.
The experience introduced high schoolers to the veterinary profession and helped generate an interest or even a career path in the field. Historically, the course’s demographics were not represented by blacks, indigenous peoples, and people from color communities.
Maza and the co-leader of the course, Dr. Kelly Lyboldt, lecturer in physiology, worked with Jodi Korich, DVM ’97, Associate Dean for Education, and other college and university leaders to award four full scholarships, including room and board that will be available to historically underrepresented students around this year to participate in the Precollege course.
Aware that underrepresented students who are new to their homes and communities may need more than financial support, Lybolt works with peers to ensure that scholars receive the mental, emotional, and community support that you need.
“I hope this fellowship opens a door, and over time, I hope that it helps keep that door open so others can pull through,” said Lyboldt. “Maybe this little act can have a big impact, and maybe students who are currently considered underrepresented will not be underrepresented in the future.”
Expanding the pipeline to diversify students joining CVM has long been a focus of Jai Sweet, Ph.D. ’96, Senior Director of Student Development and Academic Services; and Jennifer Mailey, Director of Admissions.
In addition to attending career fairs and recruiting events for various students, they have long-term partnerships with New York high schools where they visit teenagers and talk to them about veterinary school and the job.
Sweet brings a group of 10-15 students from John Bowne High School to the college every summer (excluding 2020) for an in-depth study of veterinary medicine – including animal testing labs, clinical rotations, and tours of other parts of Cornell. Sweet also bus drives 45 of John Bowne’s students to attend the CVM Open House each spring.
“We want to give these students a glimpse of what an Ivy League university looks like and what a veterinary school looks like,” said Sweet. “It’s about giving students access to further exploration, dreaming more, and making more connections.”
For Sweet and Mailey, it’s not just about recruiting at Cornell, it’s about the entire veterinary profession.
“It’s exciting to expose these students to careers that they might not have thought possible. If these experiences inspire them to explore the veterinary profession further and they eventually get to Cornell, that would be great! “Says Mailey.
The diversification of veterinary medicine benefits everyone, say the administrators. Studies have shown that workplaces and teams with diverse backgrounds and experiences are much better at problem solving and creativity, while providing better care for clients of all origins who can benefit from shared cultural identities and experiences with their vets.
“Inclusivity and accessibility will only strengthen our college and university and help us deliver high quality, compassionate veterinary care to our communities,” said Lyboldt. “The increasing diversity in our profession is crucial to better meet the needs of today’s society.”
Maza agreed. “The goal of all of this effort is to increase the number of students entering veterinary school and becoming veterinarians who can better represent the diversity of our society and meet the needs of society according to the problems of each community,” he said.
Applications for the under-represented student scholarship to attend the Cornell Precollege Studies Course, Veterinary Medicine: Small Animal Practice, will begin next January for the summer of 2022. Students, especially those from New York state, are encouraged to apply. To learn more, visit the Precollege Studies website and Veterinary Courses page, or contact Maza with any questions.
Lauren Cahoon Roberts is the Assistant Director of Communications at the College of Veterinary Medicine.