The NC State College of Veterinary Medicine’s first course dedicated entirely to diversity and equity in the veterinary profession launched this week, offering students an open discussion on a range of cultural and social issues related to veterinary medicine — and the forces that shape their worldviews.
The course, open to second- and third-year students, is among this year’s fall selectives, a collection of courses on specialized topics taken by DVM students between semesters. The annual course will look at systems of power, privilege and oppression and how those systems impact personal and professional identifies, leading to conversations on such topics as discrimination, sexism, homophobia and racism.
The weeklong course is primarily taught by Kaitlyn Runion, CVM student activities coordinator who studied multiculturalism while earning her master’s in education from NC State, and Sarah Hammond, a social and clinical research specialist who is studying equity and education while earning a Ph.D. in education policy from NC State. April Kedrowicz, CVM associate professor of communication, oversees the course.
“These are tough conversations on heavy topics, but students are eager to have them,” said Hammond. “We talk about oppression, we talk about discrimination in the workplace, we talk about what social change is. But I think what we’re also doing is guiding students through a self-exploration of identity and how this all fits in with who they are and how they see themselves in the world.”
Throughout the year, Runion works closely with Allen Cannedy, CVM director of diversity and multicultural affairs, on expanding the number of diversity-related speakers, workshops and volunteer experiences offered to CVM community members through the Office of Diversity.
Diversity and inclusion are vital parts of the CVM’s mission to train the next generation of veterinarians who practice respect and empathy for all and are fully suited to address complex challenges within their field. Prioritizing community and practicing inclusivity are two major components of the CVM’s core institutional values.
“We’re living those values. They aren’t just words, and this class is showing that,” said Runion. “If students are empowered to understand who they are and where they’re coming from, they have the power to have these conversations on and off campus and make change.”
~Jordan Bartel/NC State Veterinary Medicine