The national Student American Veterinary Medical Association’s (SAVMA) Integrative Communications and Diversity Committee (ICDC) has awarded Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine’s (Ross Vet) Maria Jose Navarrete Talloni, DVM, MPVM, PhD, the 2022 National Diversity Award. At its national level, SAVMA is comprised of 37 chapters at AVMA-accredited veterinary schools. ICDC’s award recognizes faculty members who have gone above and beyond to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) within their institution, local community, and beyond.
Dr. Navarrete is currently the assistant dean of DEI and assistant professor of anatomic pathology. She was nominated for the award by Ross Vet’s own SAVMA chapter and student government of pre-clinical students. “I was really surprised because the award had not been something I was aware of,” said Dr. Navarrete. “I am happy and honored with this award and knowing our students believe my work in diversity, equity, and inclusion is relevant and worth it.”
“Dr. Navarrete’s enthusiasm, passion, and perseverance for change revolving around DEI is inspiring and makes everyone feel recognized and appreciated. She has such a positive impact on our student body and with her plans to promote DEI, I have no doubt that she’ll build a culture of supporting our diverse community on campus,” wrote Vivian Wong, Ross Vet SAVMA’s junior delegate, in the award nomination prompt.
Born and raised in Chile, Dr. Navarrete earned her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) from University of Chile. She continued her education at University of California-Davis, earning a master’s in preventive veterinary medicine (MPVM), and later her PhD in Hanover, Germany at the University of Veterinary Medicine. She returned to Chile after completing her education and established her career there for nearly 10 years before accepting an assistant professor position at Ross Vet in 2019.
RUSVM DIVERSITY, EQUITY AND INCLUSION
Dr. Navarrete has been involved in many DEI initiatives at Ross Vet, including her appointment to the new assistant dean of DEI position in early 2022. “Being at Ross Vet and in this new DEI position has helped me a lot because I have been exposed to things that I was not before. In Germany, for example, DEI was not as prevalent when I was there 15 years ago. In Chile, DEI is more oriented to gender equity, but being at Ross Vet has provided me a bigger spectrum of DEI topics in terms of race, religion, gender, and beyond,” said Dr. Navarrete. “That has opened me to lots of different opportunities, new realities, and other ways of thinking and provided me a great network of people who have been involved in DEI for years. Where I am today is only possible because of my position here.”
In her role as assistant dean of DEI, Dr. Navarrete is tasked with leading Ross Vet’s Diversity Committee and associated Diversity Steering Committee. Every member of the Ross Vet community has an opportunity to participate in the Diversity Committee, but the steering committee is a closed group of Ross Vet leaders who guide the institution’s efforts to create a community that embraces diversity and fosters an inclusive environment.
“Representation matters, and I think that is more than just a phrase because when someone comes from an underrepresented or non-traditional background, it is important that they see themselves identified. It does not matter what you look like, how you identify, or where you come from.I If you want to become a veterinarian, you will have a place here because Ross Vet has made it so.”
Within Ross Vet’s campus community, Dr. Navarrete also serves as faculty advisor for three student-led groups – Latinx Veterinary Medical Association, PrideSVMC, and Deaf and Hard of Hearing Veterinary Students. Outside Ross Vet, she was appointed earlier this year to the American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC) faculty subcommittee for DEI, serves as the secretary of the Board of Directors and chair of the Youth Outreach Committee at Pawsibilities Vet Med, the Board of Directors for Alerce ONG in her native Chile, and a proud mentor of the New York Academy of Sciences 1000girls 1000futures Program.