This summer, Luiz Bermudez, head of the CVM Department of Biomedical Sciences, and Sue Tornquist, Associate Dean for Student Services, put the pieces together and provided a Summer Veterinary Experience for ten high school students from around Oregon.
The OSU Summer Veterinary Experience is a hands-on learning opportunity for academically talented, low-income and minority high school students interested in veterinary medicine. The students were selected based on their science grades, the recommendation of a teacher, and an essay written by them about their interest in veterinary medicine. Each student got a full scholarship, including housing and meals for one week.
CVM faculty from all departments helped deliver a wide variety of challenging laboratory and clinical experiences including diagnostic imaging demonstrations, a toxicology class, and an actual necropsy lab. Despite some early heebie jeebies, the necropsy lab turned out to be a big favorite with all the students. “The smell bothered me a bit,” says one student, “but it was still one of the top classes I loved.”
One of the goals of the new program is to introduce students who are interested in veterinary careers to the many facets of the profession. To that end, every afternoon was spent in a laboratory working closely with a faculty partner on a week-long research project. Many of the students worked on creating polymerase chain reactions to isolate DNA and identify bacteria and viruses. Others worked in immunology identifying white blood cell antigens. At the end of the week, the students presented the results of their research to family, mentors, and faculty in the Magruder Hall auditorium.
Taking charge of a group of high school students 24-7 for an entire week would not have been possible without the help of five current vet med students who provided everything from skill instruction to after-hours activities like bowling and volleyball to sharing personal perspectives on college. This year’s mentors were Jennifer Drew, Caitlin Kelly, Kellie Kietzman, Sierra LaBrecque, and Jonathon Sago. “They really stepped up to make this a good experience,” says Tornquist. “The mentors were very flexible and had great problem-solving skills. They really made the camp happen.”
Aarika Guerrero, Administrative Program Assistant in the Dean’s office, organized the many details of recruiting and setting up the program, including the coordination of nineteen new classes and workshops. Then she kept the whole thing running smoothly all week long. “The highlight for me was seeing the campers giving their research presentations and sharing their experience on their last day,” says Guerrero. “Knowing that they walked away with more than they came in with was very satisfying, and hearing them say “I want to come back next year,” is the best reward I could have hoped to receive.”