Learning Other Perspectives

This past fall, all incoming first-year students in the College of Veterinary Medicine participated in diversity and inclusion training.

Other students started to take notice. Students including Clara Young, president-elect of SAVMA who also represents the college as a senator on the ISU Student Government. Young and other student leaders asked for the opportunity to take the training and worked with college administrators to make it a reality.

“I asked Dean (Dan) Grooms about the possibility of expanding this training to students in other years,” said Young, a second-year veterinary student. “He worked with the Diversity and Inclusion Committee, Senator (Bailey) Goff and myself to open this training to student leaders over the winter break.”

More than 30 CVM student leaders participated in a 90-minute on-line module. The module was scenario based and covered topics including bias, privilege and allyship. Students had two, 60-minute small group sessions with a college facilitator after completing the on-line module.

The scenarios were collected from current and former members of the CVM community and were descriptions instances when someone observed or experienced marginalization.

“The training gave me ways to how to approach certain scenarios involving diversity, equity and inclusion and how different parties are affected by different decisions,” said Nick Benge, a third-veterinary student and vice president of the Class of 2022. “Not all answers are perfect and we have to work with our colleagues to find the best solutions.

“It was nice to hear different persons’ perspectives and how they would approach a situation.”

During the training, Young says one of the topics that stood out was the subject of identity. She says the program allowed her to learn about the significance of an individual’s identity and how that shapes their character and motivations.

“The training emphasizes the importance of appreciating the identities of others that may differ from our own,” she said, “however, the modules do not stop at tolerating our differences, but instead teaches about the importance of creating an environment in which those identities are welcomed, supported and respected.”

The training gave the student leaders an opportunity to discuss new topics with their peers. It’s an approach Mithila Noronha, a third-year veterinary student and VOICE president, appreciated.

“We discussed discrimination in medical care using some recent news stories about the deaths of Black women from COVID,” she said. “What is very important for us is to realize how these concepts could be applied to veterinary medicine.”

After completing the training, the veterinary students are applying what they learned into their leadership roles.

“In those roles I aim to apply what I have learned to my interactions with the university, my co-leaders and my peers,” said Young who has worked to secure speakers from diverse backgrounds to share their stories with the college community.

“I hope this training continues for all incoming veterinary students because it sets a standard for what is expected here in terms of diversity and inclusion,” Noronha said.

“The training shows that the college prioritizes inclusivity and wants all students to know how to make that happen in their day-to-day interactions, not just those who would normally volunteer to take the training.”

February 2021