What I did this summer

August 2020

Hi everyone!

What a week! I hope everyone is adjusting well to our new normal being back up on campus for the fall semester. I know that I can speak for myself and my classmates that we are all excited to be back on the CVM campus in person. It feels like it has been so long since any of us have seen each other actually face-to-face, so it has been really nice getting to see my peers and professors again. 

I want to use this post to share about my summer working with Dr. Grooms as one of his leadership interns. As a Dean’s Leadership Intern, I was able to help work on an initiative to improve diversity, equity and inclusion within the college and our profession. Lyle Wielenga and I have worked on multiple projects with leadership within the College of Veterinary Medicine and I wanted to take the time to share a few and reflect on everything we have accomplished this summer. 

Now, before I start I need to remind you all (and myself, really) that what we have accomplished this summer, although it is something I am extremely proud of, is just a starting point. We are taking the college in the right direction to continue to improve as a whole and I am so humbled to be a part of this positive change.

This summer we worked closely with Dr. Heather Greenlee and Dr. Monica Howard implementing a module required for all VM1 students to take called EverFi. This training tackles main concepts surrounding diversity and inclusion in the college setting using interactive videos or simply defining words such as “racism”, “privilege”, “oppression”, or the difference between “equality” and “equity”. This module can serve as a tool for students to carry the lessons they’ve learned with them as veterinary students and professionals. On top of that, we have staff, students and faculty wo have volunteered their time to hold discussions with all VM1 students about what they’ve learned, and talk through scenarios they may be presented with out in practice (such as a situation that is not inclusive, someone is being racist/sexist/xenophobic/misogynistic/etc.). It is important to get all students thinking about these issues that occur in the world around us today, but especially within our profession. That being said, we don’t want diversity training to stop here. Our goal is to infuse the entire student experience at ISU CVM with discussions/further training opportunities on these issues throughout the student’s time at ISU. This module is a step in that direction. 

We have also been working with Deanna Gerber in reviewing VMCAS data from the last five years of all applicants to ISU CVM, with our focus on finding ways to get more qualified underrepresented students into the veterinary profession. We organized the most intimidating Excel spreadsheets to comprehensively tell us what state/university/backgrounds these students are coming from, how they compared to other students, and what we can do to breakdown potential barriers that are in the way of these students getting into veterinary school. Dr. Courtney Vengrin is helping us with this data as well, and we are looking forward to discussing the data further in the next few weeks when all of the data is interpreted. 

A few other projects we had the pleasure to work on: We were able to meet with leadership within the IVMA to stress the importance of diversity within our profession, and start talking about potential programs and partnerships we can participate in as a veterinary community to tackle these issues together. We also coordinated the first day of school luncheon as we hosted Dr. Kesho Scott with her presentation, “Unlearning Isms 101”. We will be continuing the first day of each semester with a campus-wide presentation around the subject of diversity and inclusion. Also, the Diversity and Inclusion Committee will also now have student representation on the committee, to get more students involved in these important discussions. We have all also been a part of the Purdue Diversity and Inclusion Certificate Program, along with a cohort of about 30 other staff, faculty and students within ISU CVM. We also had the unique opportunity to be on the Doc Talk podcast that’ll air sometime this fall! 

I could go on and on with the projects that we worked on this summer, but I’d have you here all day reading this, so I’ll end with this: this is just the beginning. We all need to continue to work together to make veterinary medicine a more diverse and inclusive profession. It’s not enough for all of us to sit here and agree that something needs to change. We are all responsible for taking action and keeping each other accountable.  

Overall, I have learned and gained so much from this internship. From the Dean, I gained valuable insight on what it is like to be a great leader, especially during a time of crisis. As a group I know we all learned and grew this summer from the work we have done and from experiences we shared with each other, and I hope to keep this momentum up as we continue moving forward. To those interested in the Dean’s Summer Leadership Internship, I have nothing but good things to say about it. It is a lot of work, but it is gratifying work. Every summer, the Dean wants to improve our college, our community, and our profession, including young veterinarians in that process. I am beyond grateful to have been a part of this experience.