Seven questions with Ross Vet alumna Dr. Kierstin Washington ‘19
Ross Vet alumna, Dr. Kierstin Washington ’20 is currently employed as a Veterinarian with Banfield Pet Hospital in Towson, Maryland. After graduating from Spelman College, she applied to only one veterinary school - Ross Vet, her first-choice school and got in. Her journey since her acceptance continues to inspire other Black female veterinarians in a field where representation matters.
We caught up with Dr. Washington to talk about her journey of becoming a Veterinarian on her terms.
Did you always know that you wanted to be involved in veterinary medicine?
“Growing up in Baltimore, Maryland, I wanted to be a veterinarian for as long as I can remember. I have loved animals forever. Later in life, I learned that I loved medicine and science, and the combination made sense.”
What was life on campus like for you?
“Campus life was good. We needed more study space back in my time but other than that, I was usually happy on campus. The campus community was accommodating and friendly. I walked away from my experience on the island more resilient. Rossies have a resilience like no other and we are extremely adaptable because we’ve done surgery in the dark or cared for a pet during a hurricane!”
Share with us your experience in your clinical year?
“My clinical year started pretty rough. Not because I was inadequate or incompetent but because I had a difficult expectation and started on a very tough rotation. The challenge was to bring myself back to the reality, ‘I have made it this far for a reason and proceed with confidence and competence, accept the feedback, and make sure I never hear the same thing twice!’ The highlights were that I saw some amazing cases, received some amazing feedback, and made a significant number of new friends along the way.”
Any words of wisdom for those considering moving to the Caribbean to complete their studies?
“I have said for years, “if you have to be tortured in a veterinary medical program, why not do it on a beach?” For some, Ross was a second or third choice because it was too far from family/friends or even the misconception that it doesn’t produce veterinarians that are as good as stateside schools. This is a huge misconception- people actually respect and love to hire Rossies! I wanted to come to Ross. It was my first choice. I applied, got in, and never applied anywhere else. “
What does being a woman in the veterinary field mean to you?
“A woman in veterinary medicine has become more common, but it still causes some push back from old school men who still feel women are inferior. A Black or African American woman in veterinary medicine is very uncommon. The title of an African American woman or Black woman in veterinary medicine to me is more precious than any. Representing women in general and a minority group of women is one of my highest honors. I hope to inspire any adolescent Black or Brown person and remind them that they too are capable of accomplishing whatever their hearts desire.”
What are you most proud of accomplishing?
“I am most proud of accomplishing this goal, meaning my DVM, on my terms! Things didn’t always work in my favor, but I’ve learned that things will always play out the way that they should.
What is next for you?
“For now, I plan to work full time with Banfield while working toward completing my Master’s in Public Health (MPH) at Johns Hopkins through the partnership established with RUSVM. Once that is completed, I plan to continue growing in my field by completing a surgical residency. This is a bit of a non-traditional route but traditional is never the only way.”