Following in Her Grandfather’s Footsteps

Fourteen children. More than 30 grandchildren.

Yet none of Dr. John Herrick’s (’46) family followed him in the family business.

That is until his granddaughter Lauren Pipitone enrolled at Iowa State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine in the fall of 2019.

Even Pipitone, now in her second year of veterinary studies, wasn’t directing her career aspirations to veterinary medicine at first.

“I’m a big believer in signs,” Pipitone said. “I was sort of a lost lamb going into college. I liked journalism, but I wasn’t passionate about it.”

Animals was something that Pipitone was passionate about. A photo of her dog was the background on her computer. One day she was skimming through a veterinary book and ran across her grandfather’s name. That was the sign she was looking for.

Soon afterwards she was job shadowing a veterinarian and found her passion.

“I loved that experience,” Pipitone said. “I love the atmosphere of a clinic, the people and the animals.”

Pipitone says her grandfather was just as passionate about the veterinary profession. Herrick spent 35 years as a professor of veterinary clinical science and an extension veterinarian at Iowa State.

He also served as the president of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) from 1969-70, served as a vice president of the Pan American Veterinary Congress, chaired of Infectious Diseases of Cattle Committee of the U.S. Animal Health Association and chaired the meeting that resulted in the formation of the American Association of Swine Veterinarians.

“My grandfather was so passionate,” Pipitone said. “He could sit for hours talking about bovine respiratory diseases.

“Anyone who knew him knew he had a big personality. Family came before anything and he was definitely loyal to his profession and family.”

Herrick was also loyal to his alma mater. After retiring from Iowa State, Herrick moved to Arizona. Pipitone’s family also relocated to the Scottsdale area.

“He had Iowa State stuff all over his house,” Pipitone said.

Herrick died in 2007 at the age of 87. But if he was still alive Pipitone knows how emotional he would have been when he learned one of his grandchildren was following in his footsteps.

“I know he would have been over the moon with my decision to become a veterinarian,” Pipitone said, “but if I had chosen anywhere else to go to school other than Iowa State, I don’t think he would have been as happy.”

As Pipitone nears the end of her second year in vet school, she says her grandfather is with her. From connecting with current faculty who knew and worked with him to little reminders of his legacy.

She recalls not doing as well as she had hoped to on an anatomy test her first year. Feeling down she walked past a plaque recognizing her grandfather’s achievements and her spirits were lifted.

“Whenever I have what I call a ‘vet med victory,’ I wish I could talk to him about it,” she said. “I would have loved to be able to talk to him after I got through microbiology.

“He would have been so proud to have one of his grandchildren here at Iowa State, a place he truly loved.”