Veterinary Nursing Student Selected to Attend Mortar Board Leadership Conference

Friday, March 4, 2022

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Brooke Toriani is a junior Veterinary Nursing (VNRS) student at Purdue University whose giant leaps led to her nomination and selection to attend the 2022 Mortar Board Leadership Conference. This year’s event was held virtually January 29. The Barbara Cook Chapter of Mortar Board at Purdue University is a senior honor society dedicated to the pillars of scholarship, leadership, and service. Members are selected for their superior scholarship, dedicated service to the University community, and outstanding and constant leadership.

Brooke is the only VNRS student at Purdue in the last four years who has been chosen to attend the Mortar Board conference. The 2022 conference theme was “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion” (DEI) with the goal of challenging attendees to think of DEI more concretely and consistently, while granting a space to learn from each other in terms of how to create more equitable spaces.

Brooke pictured smiling sitting beside her dog, Bandit, who is also smiling into the camera
Veterinary Nursing student Brooke Toriani with her dog, Bandit.

Brooke grew up in Palatine, Illinois, where she played water polo and swam competitively in high school before focusing on theater. She continues to pursue her love for theater at Purdue, where she is a part of the cast and crew with the Purdue Performance Collaborative. Brooke’s love for biology and constant desire to pursue knowledge made veterinary nursing a no-brainer. During her time in high school, Brooke was fascinated by the intricate and meticulous functioning of body systems during dissections in biology and immediately wanted to know more about how they work. This, combined with a desire to make a positive impact in the world, along with a love for animals, led her to veterinary nursing.

Brooke chose Purdue because of its outstanding ranking as the number one program in veterinary nursing. “I loved all the clinical experience this program offers,” said Brooke. And her love of learning will not cease upon graduation. In the future, Brooke hopes to earn a Veterinary Technician Specialty (VTS) designation in emergency and critical care and work at an emergency hospital (“hopefully somewhere warm,” she said emphatically). In particular, Brooke is very interested in emergency medicine and pharmacology, and dreams of one day becoming a veterinary pharmacist in order to continue to help animals and advance her knowledge in the field.

At the January Mortar Board Leadership Conference, Brooke attended multiple sessions through the Change Maker Track, touching on varying topics including critical race theory, bias in educational aid, and facilitating tough discussions. The conference keynote speaker this year was Imani Barbarin, a well-known disability rights activist who inspired Brooke to advocate for awareness in everyday academic and work life. In addition to listening and learning, Brooke was provided the opportunity to discuss these topics with her peers. “We discussed how to best engage in difficult conversation topics, potential solutions to make higher education more accessible, and how COVID-19 has uniquely impacted disabled Americans,” reflects Brooke. “I learned so much about the world around me and how I can enact change in my community.”

Brooke hopes to continue to use what she has learned to be an advocate and ally for anyone who needs it as she progresses on her career path. “Continuous effort and support are needed to make the change we want and need,” she said. “I want to educate others and facilitate positive and productive discussions with my peers and future coworkers so we can create a more inclusive and understanding environment. Kindness and empathy are paramount.”

Congratulations again Brooke on your outstanding accomplishments! We can’t wait to see where your next steps take you.

Writer(s): Madeline Brod, PVM Communications Intern |

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