Creating Opportunities for Young People of Color in Veterinary Medicine
It is a simple fact, based upon the annual income of minority groups compared to whites that students of color encounter more obstacles in acquiring an expensive education like veterinary medicine. To be candid, too many people equate solving this problem with lowering standards. This is a counterproductive and unsound premise.
There is, however, a serious need to create opportunities. Doing so involves creating awareness of what our profession has to offer, providing funding for qualified students and bringing students together with faculty and peer mentors.
In addition to all of the traditional scholarship, grant and student loan opportunities already available to all students, the College of Veterinary Medicine at Kansas State University has developed a process for addressing these goals more effectively. We are grateful to Hill’s Pet Nutrition for providing meaningful support for this effort. It is summarized in the following brochure: Pathways to Opportunities.
On a national level, the AAVMC has developed an awareness program summarized in the following brochure, which has been customized to each College of Veterinary Medicine: AAVMC brochure
Food Animal Scholarship and Debt Forgiveness Programs
While not specifically for under-represented minority students, the College of Veterinary Medicine at Kansas State University has established an internally funded scholarship program aimed at supporting students with food animal interests. While it is hoped that both majority and minority students will avail themselves of this opportunity, it should be noted that a large number of Hispanic students have roots in animal agriculture, especially in Kansas. Another notable starting point is the mission of the Tom Bass Foundation in Kansas City, Missouri, which is to bring African American youth back into contact with agriculture. This stands to facilitate the progression of these students in agriculture and food animal interests that aspire to attain to a degree in veterinary medicine.
Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine has identified $25,000 to award up to 10 scholarships for first-year veterinary students interested in food supply/agriculturally-related veterinary medicine. Each scholarship is for $2,500 and is renewable for four years. Successful applicants must write a brief narrative on why they believe they qualify for this scholarship, provide letters of reference, and commit to entering an agriculturally-related aspect of veterinary medicine for at least five years immediately after graduation.
When this program is fully-implemented, the College of Veterinary Medicine will be committing up to $100,000 of internal scholarship funds each year to support up 40 veterinary students interested in food supply veterinary medicine and, perhaps more importantly, who have made a commitment to enter the food animal veterinary medical workforce following graduation.
Also, the 2006 Kansas legislature with the Governor’s concurrence, appropriated $120,000 per year for a total of $480,000 by year four for the purpose of forgiving education debt incurred by students that commit to enter practice in underserved rural counties in Kansas. As of 2006, this is the only such program in the United States.