Farewell Ceremony and Reception Celebrates Success of 2022 Vet Up! College Cohort

Friday, July 1, 2022

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Dr. Craig and Vet Up! participants line up on the stairs and smile for a group photo
Assistant Dean for Inclusive Excellence Latonia Craig with participants in the 2022 Vet Up! College program as they pose with their newly-received stethoscopes and white coats in the new David and Bonnie Brunner Small Animal Hospital.

The excitement was palpable as members of the 2022 Vet Up! College cohort gathered for a ceremony and reception recognizing their success in completing four weeks of intensive study at the Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine. The celebratory event was hosted by the college’s Office for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Joy M. Matson Multi-purpose Room in the David and Bonnie Brunner Small Animal Hospital Friday, June 17.

Geared toward rising college juniors and seniors, Vet Up! College is a residential summer program for educationally and economically under-resourced college undergraduates to help prepare them to be competitive in the DVM applicant pool for admission to veterinary school. Designed as a six-week learning experience, the 2022 Vet Up! College program began Monday, May 23 in Lynn Hall with a variety of educational and informational sessions and hands-on labs. The farewell ceremony and reception marked the close of the students’ time in Lynn Hall, and the start of their clinical experiences, which they went on to complete during the final two weeks of the program at locations in their home communities.

Logan and Dr. Craig stand together smiling holding up his award plaque
Logan DeSchepper, who spoke on behalf of his fellow participants during the ceremony, received the Most Dedicated Award, which was presented by Dr. Latonia Craig.

Dr. Latonia Craig, assistant dean for inclusive excellence, began the ceremony by explaining that this is the third time the college has conducted the Vet Up! College program. A total of 23 students from more than 20 universities participated. With an average GPA of 3.67, the students came from across the country, representing New York, Puerto Rico, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Hawaii, Indiana, Oregon, Ohio, Louisiana, California, Florida, Georgia, and Michigan.

Dr. Craig shared how the students benefitted from a variety of learning experiences and activities, including sessions covering anatomy, physiology, animal behavior, parasitology, clinical skills, large animal skills, emergency and critical care, neurology, pathology, and foreign animal disease case studies.  Additionally, the students engaged in group projects and visited several farms and the Indianapolis Zoo. They also volunteered at a local animal shelter, engaged in career development, interacted with Purdue veterinary students, and completed the Diversity and Inclusion Certificate program.

Dr. Craig then introduced one of the participants, Logan DeSchepper, who spoke on behalf of his fellow participants and thanked all of the people at the college who helped with the program. “I stand before you today as a low income, first-generation college student, who has had to overcome my own sets of obstacles,” Logan shared. “I always knew I wanted to help not only animals but people as well, and after much self-reflection I realized that vet med was the perfect way for me to do just that. I grew up fascinated by life, medicine, and problem-solving and I wanted to readily dedicate the rest of my career to helping those in their greatest times of need, in pushing the limits of what we know and what we can accomplish.”

Vet Up! TAs join together smiling for a group photo in front of the window
The success of the 2022 Vet Up! College program was due in significant part to the work of six Purdue veterinary students in the DVM Class of 2024 who served as teaching assistants (pictured left-right): Tyra Jenkins, Daniela Sanchez, Maxine White, Bryttani Watson, Jasmine Stephen, and Keishla Marrero Acosta

Logan continued, “I believe that programs such as Vet Up! are essential to rearing the next generation of veterinarians. Having the opportunity to interact with those from so many cultures and diverse backgrounds this past month has truly been an honor.”

Dr. Craig then expressed appreciation for the faculty and staff who helped with the program, as well as the staff of the Office for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and Purdue veterinary students who served as teaching assistants. Dr. Craig praised the TA’s for going above and beyond in supporting the program, as they lived in the dorms during the program to be available 24/7 and helped in a variety of ways, answering questions, providing encouragement, and assisting the participants in developing study strategies. Congratulations to each of the following veterinary students, all members of the DVM Class of 2024, who received certificates of recognition for their leadership and mentorship as Vet Up! program teaching assistants: Kara Jenkins, Keishla Marrero Acosta, Daniela Sanchez, Jasmine Stephen, Bryttani Watson, and Maxine White.

Dr. Craig also recognized a student who attended this year’s Vet Up! program as one of the first program ambassadors. One of the goals for Vet Up! is to see the program duplicated at another institution.  Courtney Ford-Franklin, a past Vet Up! participant, attended this summer to take notes because this fall she will enter the DVM program at Louisiana State University, which plans to start a Vet Up! program on their campus in summer 2023. In her role as an ambassador, Courtney is being sponsored by NVA, which is providing her with a $10,000 scholarship. As Dr. Craig announced that news at the ceremony, a round of cheers and applause erupted.

Next, Dr. Craig recognized recipients of five awards for participants in this year’s Vet Up! College program. 

  • Logan DeSchepper received the Model Pre-vet Student Award, which is given for exemplary program candidacy through participation, demonstrating discipline, and maintaining a can-do attitude in the Vet Up! College program.
  • Sebastián López Peña was presented with the Most Dedicated Award, in recognition of his enthusiastic commitment by maintaining a positive attitude and demonstrating an eagerness to learn and excel in spite of any posed challenges in the Vet Up! College program.
  • Mary-Margaret Niala Ollivierre-Davis received the Most Engaged Award. “No matter what the session, this student had multiple questions and was full of curiosity,” Dr. Craig noted as she explained that the award is given in recognition of the participant’s premier immersion through active participation, curiosity, and commitment in the Vet Up! College program.
  • Lauren Wilson received the Most Collaborative Award in recognition of her active listening, logical rationale, respectfulness of others, and helpful participation in the program. “No matter what, Lauren wanted to be a part of everything and wanted to be sure everyone did well,” Dr. Craig said. “The veterinary field is a team profession and this person demonstrated that she was all about the team.”
  • Yaileen Eysmarie Aponte-Bracero was presented with the Academic Excellence Award in recognition of her scholastic distinction by representing the core values of Purdue University’s Vet Up! College program, acing examinations, maintaining a positive attitude, and achieving high standards in her efforts to increase competency skills in veterinary medicine.  
Two participants take a selfie with a stethoscope creatively set on top of one of the participant's head
Creative selfies were the order of the afternoon for Vet Up! College participants at the reception held in their honor.

Another component of the Vet Up! College program is completing a capstone project. Participants were organized into seven groups and each group researched a particular topic before making their capstone presentation on the last day of the program. The 10-minute presentations were evaluated on a variety of factors, including the quality of the visual presentation, references, literature review, and the team’s poise in addressing questions. The winning team was that of Katerine Angeles, Logan DeSchepper, and Ivanna Marroquin.

Dr. Craig then honored each of the 23 program participants individually by announcing their names and calling them forward to receive their white coat and stethoscope as well as their certificate for completing the Diversity and Inclusion Certificate program. Following the ceremony, the participants gathered for a group photo and some candid pictures as they wore their newly received white coats, before joining the reception to enjoy refreshments and visit with each other, their TAs, and college faculty and staff.


Writer(s): Kevin Doerr | pvmnews@purdue.edu

Category: Diversity, Our Impact

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