Returning to Ross Vet to educate, uplift, and empower others.
For Natalie Ragland, DVM, DACLAM ‘11, Black History Month highlights the need for continued representation to increase diversification and to decrease isolation.
“As an African American woman in veterinary medicine, isolation is a very real experience. But as the increase in partnerships between higher and lower educational systems continue, there is hope and evidence of what is to come in the future.”
Increasing diversification and decreasing isolation are the drivers that ultimately brought Dr. Ragland to pursue her dreams at Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine (Ross Vet) – both as a former student and current faculty member.
Dr. Ragland’s journey into the field began at Penn State University in 1997, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in animal bioscience. Six years later, she was accepted to Ross Vet to pursue her doctorate in veterinary medicine (DVM). “I really grew up at Ross Vet. It was my first time living abroad, so the concept was very new to me, but when I landed with my two suitcases and a dream, I thought to myself – let’s get to it,” recalled Dr. Ragland, who would go on to earn her DVM in 2011.
A decade later, Dr. Ragland rejoined the Ross Vet family in April 2021 as an assistant professor ready to inspire others on a similar journey. Now having been back on campus nearly one year since her return, Dr. Ragland reflected on the changes she has seen between her time as a student and returning faculty member. “When I attended Ross Vet, there were not many in my class that looked like me. Groups and outlets like the Student National Association for Black Veterinarians (SNABV) did not exist when I was a student and seeing the level of diversity on campus today is very heartwarming.”
Dr. Ragland now serves as the faculty advisor for SNABV’s Ross Vet Chapter, a student-driven organization on campus that offers opportunities to underrepresented groups and is a support system for those currently in or considering the veterinary field. They assist in networking, giving back to others, providing professional development, and partnering with other organizations to increase awareness for underrepresentation.
Dedicating her time to diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives provides Dr. Ragland opportunities to have a role as a faculty member, former student, and Black woman representing a small percentage of the veterinary workforce that exists today. “At one time, it felt very daunting: to be the only one in a committee, in a meeting, classroom, or department. Now I see [being a Black female veterinarian] as an opportunity and a blessing. It creates avenues to dispel stereotypes, biases, prejudices, subtle microaggressions, and I now use it to educate, uplift and empower others. I carry immense weight and responsibility not just for my current peers, but for those that I mentor, advise or support. I recognize that if offered the opportunity to have a seat at the table, then I must create change through and around the table.”
Outside of veterinary medicine, faith is the core of what has driven Dr. Ragland to dedicate much of her life to uplifting others. “I believe that we all here for a purpose that is much bigger than what we even imagine for ourselves, but we all start in seed format. The more we water something, the more it will grow. Sowing seeds of outreach, humility, kindness, and service will not only have a local imprint in my sphere of influence, but also has the potential to create a global impact. One person that I may mentor, serve, or assist might in fact help one hundred people, which would then grow from there. The effects of humility, kindness, and service are then limitless.”
At Ross Vet, our passion is training qualified students from a wide range of backgrounds to become the next generation of career-ready, compassionate veterinarians and researchers through our commitment to diversity and inclusion. Read more about our Social Justice Commitments: