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Class of 2024 Story: Coming Home

This has always been Kinnidy Coley’s place.

The Raleigh native knew she wanted to be a veterinarian in high school and that always meant going to the NC State College of Veterinary Medicine. 

When she began college at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, Coley kept a list of all the course requirements for the CVM, checking each one off as she went along.

The CVM wasn’t just where she wanted to go. It was where she had to go.

“When I came to campus the first time, I was in awe,” says Coley. “It was amazing. You know when you are walking up the walkway and see the sunlight hit it just right? It was perfect.”

She’s home. Coley enters the CVM with the class of 2024 and with an exuberance for veterinary medicine — all of it. There’s contagious excitement when she talks about how she was enthralled by a skin grafting procedure on a dog’s leg she witnessed the first day she shadowed a veterinarian at a practice.

Meet Kinnidy Coley, CVM class of 2024

She remembers the names of all the animals she has worked with on her way to veterinary school. Lemon and Brownie were the chickens her elementary school class raised. Creampuff was the chicken she worked with in high school while a member of Future Farmers of America who didn’t know how to use its coop in the winter and got frostbite.

She loved small companion animals, but also eventually loved farm animals, big and small. Then she discovered goats. Then she developed an interest in food security and perfecting agricultural practices and global food systems. When Coley becomes interested in something, she always dives right in.

“I see things in doors,” says Coley. “When you open one door, you have a whole new perspective you didn’t have at first. As I opened more doors, the more things I’d see. There’s too many doors to not want to open them.”

It has always been this way. As a child, Coley wouldn’t just watch nature documentaries on TV — she’d take notes. A notebook was full of names of different animals, what they looked like and how they acted. She’d jot down every little fact, like the way zebra and wildebeest crossed the Serengeti or how to identify leopards based on markings.

There were always animals. As she grew up, she treasured experiences like sleeping overnight at the National Aquarium in Baltimore or visiting zoos in Buffalo and Toronto and Washington, D.C. When she wanted her first volunteer experience to be with an animal rescue organization, she was too young so her mother had to accompany her.

Farm animals came later, in high school with the FFA, but a similar enthusiasm developed.

Kinnidy Coley

Coley visits a goat the CVM’s Teaching Animal Unit. Photo by Mike Charbonneau/NC State Veterinary Medicine

“We did a supervised agriculture experience project. And me, I’m in the suburbs. I had never seen a farm animal,” says Coley. “I didn’t know what I was going to do or what they were going to do.”

But she felt instantly comfortable on farms. During her first semester at North Carolina A&T, Coley volunteered at the university’s teaching farm one or twice. By her second semester, she was out there every week for class. She learned how to milk and bottle feed cows and couldn’t get enough.

“Me and my classmates, would we say we’re farm fresh, farm fit and farm lit,” says Coley, who joins the CVM as a Food Animal Scholar and an Annable Scholar. “We had our own slogan going.”

When there was an experience to take, she took it. Her resume includes a fellowship as a Land O’Lakes Global Food Challenge Emerging Leader, where she focused on agricultural policy and sustainability and serving as a “next generation delegate” to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs to address global food and nutrition security.

When there was something she wanted to learn, she asked. Her mentors at A&T included Andrea Gentry-Apple, an assistant professor of animal sciences and a former Food Animal Scholar at the CVM, graduating in 2015.

When I came to campus the first time, I was in awe. It was amazing. You know when you are walking up the walkway and see the sunlight hit it just right? It was perfect.

When she wanted to further explore her interest in small ruminants, she reached out to Allen Cannedy, the CVM’s director of diversity and multicultural affairs who also runs a mobile small ruminant and camelid practice, and asked if she could shadow him. Through Cannedy, she watched an array of medical procedures she will have to master. 

“You see a lot of that at the CVM, a genuine care for students,” says Coley. “There’s a tailoring of the program to make sure students have the opportunity to explore what they want. I wanted a place where I felt I would be supported. I know I will get that.”

After a little over a week at the CVM, Coley is already exploring her options. She says she has signed up for the Carnivore Team, which offers experiences in research and care for wild and captive carnivores. She would love to take part in the college’s annual Bovine Educational Symposium — affectionately called Cowabunga — which provides hands-on exploration of different types of farms and production techniques in the United States.

She’s eager to go out to the CVM’s Teaching Animal Unit, the 80-acre farm where goats, cows, sheep and horses are waiting for her.

“I’m getting to go up that walkway again, but now I’m actually going to classes,” says Coley. “I’m not just saying I want to be here. I’m actually able to be here. It feels like reaching the peak of a mountain top.

“And you know that bubbly feeling I got whenever I used to come to this campus? Now that feeling is permanent.”  

~Jordan Bartel/NC State Veterinary Medicine

This profile of Kinnidy Coley is the second in a series of weekly stories highlighting the extraordinary members of the CVM class of 2024. Click here for more about the class.