According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) 2021 reporting, approximately 1.2% of veterinarians are Black (Source: BLS). “Whether it be due to economic status, social status, or lack of representation, many Black students don’t even consider a career in veterinary medicine,” said Kayla Jackson, class of ’24. Representation is why organizations such as Student National Association for Black Veterinarians (SNABV) are vital to the Black community.
Kayla is the Membership Chair of Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine’s (Ross Vet) SNABV Chapter, established on Ross Vet’s campus in 2020. The SNABV’s mission is to advocate for and build a network of support for Black students at Ross Vet through mentorship, professional development, and career planning. Ross Vet’s chapter sets out to demonstrate to all Black students that a career in veterinary medicine is attainable, and regardless of where individuals are in their veterinary career, there is a community of people that look like them, have been in their shoes, and want to support them through their endeavors. “Organizations like SNABV not only provide a bridge into veterinary medicine for underrepresented groups, but also provides visibility, a sense of belonging, gives avenues for advancement in all areas of veterinary medicine, and offers access to others in the community. It is a great resource for networking, mentoring, and encouragement. It provides opportunities to discuss change and to play an instrumental part in increasing and supporting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives across multiple agencies, companies, and organizations,” said Dr. Natalie Ragland ’11, an assistant professor and faculty advisor for the Ross Vet SNABV chapter.
Each semester, Ross Vet’s SNABV chapter holds mentorship workshops to connect SNABV members with undergraduate students on the path to pursuing their DVM. Kayla and her peers help these students understand the admissions processes, create outstanding applications, and share knowledge on what to expect as a veterinary student. There are also mentorship workshops for current SNABV members that allows them to work closely with alumni, recent graduates, peers in clinical rotations, and other Black veterinarians to hold discussion panels featuring topics about navigating career paths as a Black professional.
When asked about what Black History Month means to her, Kayla said “it is a moment in the year where the accomplishments of African Americans are highlighted, commemorated, and honored.”
Every year the President of the United States designates a theme. The theme for 2022 celebrates Black Health and Wellness, including honoring Black veterinarians and their milestones. “As the next generation of Black professionals, SNABV members work to uphold the legacy.