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A fledgling group striving to boost the number of female leaders in the veterinary profession has launched its first three student chapters at Cornell University, Texas A&M University and the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine.
The parent organization is the Women's Veterinary Leadership Development Initiative (WVLDI), which Karen Bradley, DVM, of Onion River Animal Hospital in Middlesex, Vt., created in July 2013.
"The purpose of the student chapters mirrors that of the WVLDI: to support women in seeking and achieving leadership, policy and decision-making positions within all areas of professional veterinary activity," said Cassandra Tansey, a Texas A&M student representative. "These determined and talented young women are exactly who we need in private practices, in local and state VMAs, and in veterinary colleges, shaping and expanding the future of veterinary medicine."
Cornell WVLDI student chapter officers are, from left, Michelle Forella, vice president; Jordan Daniels, president; Katherine Schuhmacher, secretary; Yuan Kang, treasurer; and Becky Donnelly, historian.
The chapters bubbled up after a March symposium organized by the Student American Veterinary Medical Association (SAVMA).
"From my perspective, the students at SAVMA ignited a fire discussing women's leadership issues and have done more in a short time than I dreamed possible," Dr. Bradley said. "They give me goose bumps and make me smile picturing their futures."
Cornell, Texas A&M and Virginia-Maryland sanctioned the new chapters.
"The student chapters have already begun planning and hosting events designed to equip students with the leadership skills they'll require in the future, such as negotiation workshops and public speaking exercises," the parent organization stated. "There is also an effort underway to have a WVLDI student chapter board liaison."
Four more veterinary schools could see student chapters formed by this fall, WVLDI reported.
Nearly 53 percent of U.S. veterinarians in private practice in 2013 were female, but the percentage is expected to grow. Women made up 78.5 percent of students enrolled in U.S. colleges of veterinary medicine in 2013, according to the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges.