Purdue Veterinarian Receives National Jefferson Award

Friday, July 12, 2019

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Dr. San Miguel speaks at the Jefferson Awards ceremony in Washington, D.C.
Dr. Sandra San Miguel, PVM associate dean for engagement, received a national Jefferson Award for Outstanding Public Service by an Employee on June 18 in Washington, D.C. at the national award ceremony for Multiplying Good, the nation’s leading nonprofit focused on fueling personal growth and leadership through public service. (Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Multiplying Good)

What started as a dream of becoming a veterinarian led Dr. Sandra San Miguel to pursue a passion for broadening diversity in the veterinary medical profession. And now she’s being nationally recognized for her work.

Dr. San Miguel (PU DVM ’93; PhD ’97), associate dean for engagement in the Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine, received an Outstanding Public Service Award on June 18 at Multiplying Good’s national Jefferson Awards Gala for the creation of an after-school program named This is How We “Role.” The program shows grade school children what veterinary medicine is like to inspire their interest in sciences.

“When I was a kid and messed up, there was always someone — a teacher, guidance counselor, coach, physical therapist — who showed me how to be a better human being instead of giving up on me,” Dr. San Miguel said. “We created This is How We ‘Role’ to serve as a way to continue this type of mentoring.”

The program was developed in conjunction with a longstanding relationship between the College and the Hanna Community Center in Lafayette, Ind.  “We started out by helping Hanna kids with their homework,” Dr. San Miguel said.  “Then we started giving some veterinary lessons. The kids would get excited about the lessons and not want to go home. We didn’t want to go home either because it was so much fun. The idea was to show the kids that they could be anything they wanted.”

This is How We “Role” was launched in 2015 with support from the Science Education Partnership Award program of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, a part of the National Institutes of Health. The funding allowed the Purdue team to develop a science and math curriculum for kids that would be delivered by veterinary student role models.

The long-term goal of This is How We “Role” is to diversify the veterinarian-scientist workforce. The program has reached hundreds of children and will continue to reach more. Already, This is How We “Role” has expanded across the country as 19 other U.S. veterinary schools and colleges have adopted the program with the support of the SEPA grant.

The program’s effects continue to motivate Dr. San Miguel.  “I see the impact on the kids when they solve problems and talk about things that they learned during vet lessons, months after the lessons happened,” Dr. San Miguel said. “I see the impact on our veterinary students when they are able to explain complex health concepts in ways the kids can understand. Also, I see our impact in all the smiles.”

Multiplying Good, formerly known as the Jefferson Awards Foundation, is a national nonprofit dedicated to powering and celebrating public service. Purdue participates in Multiplying Good’s Champions program, joining various businesses and educational institutions nationwide who partner with the organization to engage in meaningful public service and celebrate their communities with Jefferson Awards.

Click here to view a video of Dr. San Miguel receiving her award.

Writer(s): Madison Sanneman, Purdue News Service, and Kevin Doerr | pvmnews@purdue.edu

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