Following in the footsteps of family scholars who have led in their respective areas of veterinary medicine, Dr. Hilari French, assistant Dean of academic delivery and director of integrative mammalian research at Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine (Ross Vet) is a proud third-generation veterinarian in her family. Dr. French attributes her love of veterinary medicine and successful career to the influence and support of her grandfather, who was a mixed-animal practitioner, and her father who is the department head at the University of Illinois Veterinary School. Though no surprise to those who know her, Dr. French is forging her own legacy when it comes to supporting the next generation of veterinary leaders.
Dr. French completed a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) and Ph.D. program at Louisiana State University. Upon completion of her Ph.D. program, she embarked on a double residency at the University of Illinois in Comparative Theriogenology and American Board of Veterinary Practitioners (ABVP) Food Animal Practice. “I realized early in my career that my true calling was to be an educator in the field. Since then, most of my career decisions were made to ensure I would be able to serve at a university.” Upon completion of her residency, Dr. French received job offers from Ross Vet in St. Kitts, West Indies, and the Western College of Veterinary Medicine in Saskatoon, Canada. Her decision, based on the hands-on and diverse student education offered at Ross Vet and perhaps the on-average 40-degree temperature variation between the two cities, thankfully she chose Ross Vet.
“My initial attraction and continued commitment to Ross Vet is by far the students and the passion they bring to their education. As a resident at the University of Illinois, I was always impressed with the education and drive of Rossies. Now that I am a Rossie myself, I find extreme pride in the stories I receive from students and other university colleagues on the success of our students during their clinical year and practice,” says Dr. French.
Dr. French also notes the impact the diversity of the Ross Vet faculty and students have on her career, learning from so many different cultural backgrounds, yet acknowledging that St. Kitts really feels like home, “I grew up in Louisiana in a very open and friendly culture and that’s what the St. Kitts community offers. My husband and I often refer to our friends on the island as our ‘framily’ and we are so thankful for all their support.”
In addition to all she receives from her students, her island framily, and the St. Kitts community, Dr. French continues to give back. Dr. French recently accepted a three-year appointment of the Small Ruminant Chair for the Assessment Development Committee of the International Council for Veterinary Assessment (ICVA) and serves as a Research Fellow for the One Health Research Foundation.