PVM’s This is How We “Role” Program Receives Inspiring Programs in STEM Award

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

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The Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine’s This is How We “Role” program has received the 2018 Inspiring Programs in STEM Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, the largest and oldest diversity and inclusion publication in higher education. The Inspiring Programs in STEM Award honors colleges and universities that encourage and assist students from underrepresented groups to enter the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

The This is How We “Role” program received the award because of its long-term goal of diversifying the veterinarian-scientist workforce, which is currently over 90% White. The Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine will be featured, along with 77 other recipients of the award, in the September 2018 issue of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine.  The magazine selected the award winners on the basis of efforts to inspire and encourage a new generation of young people to consider careers in STEM through mentoring, teaching, research, and successful programs and initiatives.

Purdue Veterinary Medicine Dean Willie Reed said This is How We “Role” is very deserving of the recognition.  “This program is a wonderfully creative and highly effective approach to engaging a diverse audience of impressionable young people and opening their eyes to the amazing opportunities available to them in veterinary medicine,” Dean Reed said.  “The veterinary medical profession serves as a gateway to important STEM careers, and with the help of a talented team of collaborators, this program holds great promise for expanding diversity in this significant STEM discipline.”

The This is How We “Role” program is supported by the Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) program of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), a part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). A team of experts from Purdue, led by the College of Veterinary Medicine, developed a scalable, 56-lesson, interactive science and math curriculum for students in kindergarten through fourth grade, with a focus on those who are educationally disadvantaged due to socioeconomic status, race, or ethnicity. The development team consists of experts at Purdue, elementary school teachers, an illustrator, and the Kingston Bay Group, an education consulting agency.

The fun and interactive science and math curriculum, meeting Next Generation Science Standards, is delivered by veterinarians and veterinary medical student role models to children in kindergarten through fourth grade. The program is designed to help them learn about basic veterinary science, the breadth of careers in the veterinary profession, and how veterinary professionals can prevent and treat health conditions such as diabetes, cancer, and asthma that impact both people and their animals.

Purdue University’s Evaluation and Learning Research Center assesses program impact on veterinary medical student role models and participating children. Assessments focus on changes in the children’s attitudes toward careers in veterinary medicine, knowledge of veterinary science, and their perceptions of themselves and their capability to achieve success. The program’s effect on the veterinary student role models is assessed by measuring their likelihood to continue community service in the future and their ability to interact effectively with future clients.

Purdue University’s College of Veterinary Medicine enjoys a long-term, mutually beneficial collaboration with Hanna Community Center, where the This is How We “Role” curriculum is delivered through after-school programs and summer camps for children under 12 years of age, 90% of whom are from low income families. Hanna’s mission is to provide a gathering place, celebrate cultural differences, and provide social services that improve the quality of life.

“We are very excited to see the success of this approach to increasing diversity in the pool of young people considering a future in veterinary medicine,” said Dr. Sandy San Miguel, associate dean for engagement at the College of Veterinary Medicine and principal investigator for the This is How We “Role” grant.  “The results we’ve already achieved now are making it possible to expand the program across the country.”

Nationwide distribution of This is How We “Role” programs through U.S. colleges/schools of veterinary medicine began in 2017 with a competitive grants process. The Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine provides each partner institution with a comprehensive guide for program implementation; online professional development training for delivering the program in a culturally responsive, age-appropriate manner; lesson materials including instructions; handouts and activity sheets; and tools for assessing the program’s impact both on the elementary school students and veterinary student role models. Currently, the program is at 13 of the 30 U.S. veterinary medical colleges, with further expansion planned. In addition to the role modeling program, children’s e-books and an online game are available at no cost through the program website:

“We know that many STEM programs are not always recognized for their success, dedication, and mentorship for underrepresented students,” says Lenore Pearlstein, owner and publisher of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine. “We want to honor the schools and organizations that have created programs that inspire and encourage young people who may currently be in or are interested in a future career in STEM. We are proud to honor these programs as role models to other institutions of higher education and beyond.”

A call for nominations for the award was announced in April 2018. For more information about the 2018 Inspiring Programs in STEM Award and INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, visit

Writer(s): Kevin Doerr |

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