Vet Up! College: Inaugural Graduation Celebrates Achievements

Monday, December 16, 2019

Make a Gift
Support the College

Vet Up! College participants and PVM administrators and teaching assistants gather together in the library for a group photo
Members of the inaugural Vet Up! College graduating class, sporting their new white coats, gather for a fun group photo along with PVM teaching assistants (wearing black shirts), and members of the PVM administration, faculty and staff, including (left, front-back) Assistant Dean for Diversity and Inclusion Latonia Craig, Dr. Darryl Ragland, Dr. Henry Green, and Director of Global Engagement Will Smith, II; and (right, front- back) Dean Willie Reed, Office for Diversity and Inclusion Program Manager Marisol Uribe, and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Kathleen Salisbury.

This summer, the Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine welcomed its first class of Vet Up!® College students. Vet Up! College is a six-week program for undergraduate students who are serious about going to veterinary school. Participants experience first-hand what it is like to be a veterinary student. Each of the six weeks during the program simulates a different part of the four-year DVM curriculum.

The program concluded with a graduation celebration on June 28 in the Veterinary Medical Library. Dean Willie Reed started the ceremony by acknowledging the obstacles the students have to overcome in their journey to becoming veterinarians and reminding them that they have a PVM family to help support them in their endeavors. “You all are very special. You’re the first Vet Up! College graduating class, a little like our first DVM Class of 1963,” Dean Reed said.

Dean Reed was followed by Dr. Latonia Craig, assistant dean for inclusive excellence and director of the Vet Up! program, who gave some insight into the goals of Vet Up! College and the experiences that it provides to the participants. “This six-week program was designed to address two critical health professional disparities: one, a national and state of Indiana shortage of veterinarians in public health and in rural or food animal practice; and, two, a significant lack of underrepresented individuals entering the veterinary profession,” Dr. Craig said. “Students took a series of examinations and participated in mock interviews among many other things that are part of vet school to give them a real idea of what it is like.” During their stay on campus, all of the students also completed the Center of Excellence for Diversity and Inclusion in Veterinary Medicine certificate program.

One of the Vet Up! College participants, Victoria Johnson, who is a rising senior studying agriculture with an animal sciences concentration at Prairie View A&M University in Texas, also spoke during the ceremony, explaining what the program meant to her. “We learned so much in regard to different aspects of veterinary medicine, such as animal behavior and animal welfare, as well as the importance of mental wellness in this field,” Victoria said. “We were taught how to prioritize learning material in the DVM curriculum, because there is a lot of information and not a lot of time to digest all of it. I really enjoyed our interactions with the professors and visiting the off-campus swine and dairy facilities.”

Vet Up! Program Manager Marisol Uribe thanked the teaching assistants (TAs) who helped the students through all six weeks of the program. The TAs provided support and assistance with coursework and presentations and planned extracurricular activities for the students to unwind.

Outstanding Vet Up! College participants hold up their Stedman's Medical Dictionary books in front of the PVM logo banner
Vet Up! College participants (left-right) Alyssa Warren, Keishla Marrero Acosta, Myia Ratcliff, Milton Ortiz Rivera, and Jona Fletcher were honored as outstanding students based on their professionalism, attitude, academic record, and emotional investment in the program. Each received a certificate of recognition and a copy of Stedman’s Medical Dictionary.

Dr. Craig then recognized five outstanding Vet Up! students, who were selected based on their professionalism, attitude, academic record, and emotional investment in the program. They each received a certificate of recognition and a personal copy of Stedman’s Medical Dictionary. Finally, all of the graduates were called forward one by one to receive a certificate of completion of the Vet Up! College program and a Vet Up! white coat, mirroring the White Coat Ceremony conducted for Purdue DVM students when they enter their clinical year, which is the final year of veterinary school.

Vet Up! College is one of three programs that are part of Vet Up! The National Health Careers Opportunity Program (HCOP) Academy for Veterinary Medicine, a federally funded initiative aimed at furthering access to the veterinary profession for talented students from disadvantaged backgrounds and addressing the need for more veterinarians serving rural areas and protecting food safety. The other programs are Vet Up! Champions, which is geared toward high school students, working adults, and first- or second-year undergraduate students; and Vet Up! DVM Scholars, which supports veterinary medical students at Purdue throughout their professional degree program.

Vet Up!® The National Health Careers Opportunity Program (HCOP) Academy for Veterinary Medicine received the 2019 Inspiring Programs in STEM Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine – the largest and oldest diversity and inclusion publication in higher education. The award honors colleges and universities that encourage and assist students from underrepresented groups to enter the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Purdue Veterinary Medicine was featured, along with 49 other Inspiring Programs in STEM Award recipients, in the September 2019 issue of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine.

Writer(s): Maya Sanaba, PVM Communications Intern |

Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine, 625 Harrison Street, West Lafayette, IN 47907, 765-494-7607

© 2024 Purdue University | An equal access/equal opportunity university | Copyright Complaints | Maintained by PVM Web Communications

If you have trouble accessing this page because of a disability, please contact PVM Web Communications at