Dr. Sandra San Miguel Receives AAVMC’s National Iverson Bell Award

Friday, March 13, 2020

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The Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC) recognized Dr. Sandra San Miguel, Purdue Veterinary Medicine’s associate dean for engagement, for her tireless efforts to foster diversity and inclusion in academic veterinary medicine by presenting her with the 2020 Iverson Bell Award.  The award is given in memory and recognition of Dr. Iverson Bell’s outstanding leadership and contributions in the promotion of diversity in veterinary medical education.

Dr. San Miguel received the award, sponsored by Banfield Pet Hospital, during the AAVMC’s Annual Conference and Iverson Bell Symposium held in Washington, D.C. March 6-8.  The Iverson Bell Award honors individuals who have demonstrated a commitment to promoting diversity and inclusion in academic veterinary medicine through impactful contributions. Recipients also must have played a significant role in recruitment, development, and retention of pre-vet and DVM students, faculty, residents, and interns from underrepresented or disadvantaged groups.

Sandy and Michael stand together on stage holding her award plaque with a fist in the air
Dr. Sandra San Miguel, PVM associate dean for research, sporting a cape and a pink phoenix on her shirt to symbolize the new League of VetaHumanz, strikes a superhero pose with AAVMC President Michael Lairmore as he presents her with the 2020 Iverson Bell Award during the AAVMC’s Annual Conference Saturday, March 7.

Dr. San Miguel has implemented multiple programs aimed at reaching underserved students through captivating educational programs and materials that generate interest and enthusiasm for the field of veterinary medicine. These initiatives include This is How We “Role,” an after-school program created for children in grades K-4 who are educationally disadvantaged due to socioeconomic status, race, or ethnicity, with the long-term goal of diversifying the veterinarian-scientist workforce. She also spearheaded development of Vet Up! The National Health Careers Opportunity Program (HCOP) Academy for Veterinary Medicine.  Vet Up! consists of three programs that provide opportunities and support for equity-minded individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds to enter the veterinary profession and serve society by advancing public health, ensuring food safety, or serving rural areas.

In addition, Dr. San Miguel co-edited Navigating Diversity and Inclusion in Veterinary Medicine, which was published in 2013 as the first book of its kind addressing the ongoing lack of the diversity in veterinary medicine – the least inclusive of all medical professions.  She also partnered with the AAVMC and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) to create the Center of Excellence for Diversity and Inclusion in Veterinary Medicine, which offers certificate programs. Many faculty, staff, and students at veterinary schools and colleges across the country, including Purdue Veterinary Medicine, have completed the Certificates for Diversity and Inclusion in Veterinary Medicine.

This year, Dr. San Miguel is launching a creative new program called the League of VetaHumanz, which aims to promote animal and public health by sharing the stories and experiences of current veterinarians.  As part of the award presentation, the AAVMC showed a video they produced about Dr. San Miguel, in which she discusses the new program.  Click here to view the video.

Dr. San Miguel earned her Purdue DVM degree in 1993, and went on to complete her master’s and PhD degrees at Purdue as well.  Along with her administrative duties as an associate dean, Dr. San Miguel also is a faculty member in the Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences. 

In nominating Dr. San Miguel for the Iverson Bell Award, PVM Dean Willie Reed said that the programs she has developed “… have become models for other veterinary medical schools and colleges and hold great promise for inspiring future generations of veterinary medical professionals.” He added, “Her professionalism and dedication to excellence is exceeded only by her genuine passion for bettering the lives of others and truly diversifying the profession of veterinary medicine.”

Dr. San Miguel was one of two recipients of the AAVMC’s 2020 Iverson Bell Award. The other is Dr. Jaime Gongora, associate professor in animal and wildlife genetics and genomics in the Sydney School of Veterinary Science (SSVS) at the University of Sydney.  Click here to view a news release about the dual award winners.

Writer(s): Maya Sanaba, PVM Communications Intern, and Kevin Doerr | pvmnews@purdue.edu

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