Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine (Ross Vet) is home to several student-run clubs and chapter organizations dedicated to increasing visibility for underrepresented groups in veterinary medicine. Among them is the Latinx Veterinary Medical Association (LVMA).
"The purpose of our LVMA Chapter is to address the lack of Latinx representation in our profession,” said Alan Huizar, class of ’25 and president of the LVMA for ’22-23. “We strive to promote networking opportunities for Latinx veterinary professionals to come together by supporting each other and the next generation of aspiring Latinx veterinarians.”
Huizar grew up in Pomona, California, moving there at a young age with his families from Jalisco, Mexico and Zacatecas, Mexico. Though majority of his childhood was spent in the United States, he frequently visits family still in Mexico and has always maintained the culture and importance of family and community that he learned throughout his life. When he enrolled at Ross Vet in 2021 as a first-generation college student, he already had it predetermined that he would seek out the LVMA. “I knew I wanted to join something to represent my Latino background because I never really had a mentor or someone from the same background to see as a veterinarian.”
In fact, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2021 reporting, only 4.6% of veterinarians identify as Hispanic or Latinx (Source: BLS). The LVMA as a national organization calls attention to this underrepresentation during Hispanic Heritage Month and through organizational pillars of empowerment, outreach, mentorship, scholarship, and professional development for Latinx professionals.
RUSVM AND HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH
Hispanic Heritage Month is observed from September 15 to October 15, celebrating the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. The celebration starts mid-month because September 15 marks the independence anniversary of five countries: Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, followed by Mexico's Independence Day on September 16 and Chile on September 18. In all, 20 countries are celebrated during Hispanic Heritage Month.
Huizar has recruited other Ross Vet students from Puerto Rico, Ecuador, Colombia, Peru, El Salvador, and his native Mexico to join the LVMA, and those are just the ones he could immediately recall. Ross Vet is home to many different cultures, with 14% of the student body identifying as Hispanic or Latinx (Source). Huizar believes the representation here benefits the entire community:
“At Ross Vet, the LVMA and all the other clubs do a good job representing different cultures while simultaneously being open to everyone here. Once a club activity is promoted, it is open to anyone to come by, learn about something new, experience a different culture, and have a good time. We hosted a salsa dancing activity at the end of the semester, and that is just one small way we can make clubs enticing because we can try new or different experiences together.”
The theme for Hispanic Heritage Month in 2022 is Unidos: Inclusivity for a Stronger Nation. The National Council of Hispanic Employment Program Managers hosts an annual submission contest to determine the theme, to which they describe this year’s selection as encouraging us to ensure that all voices are represented and welcomed to help build stronger communities and a stronger nation (Source: NCHEPM, 2022).
“The theme is something that we really focus ourselves on,” said Huizar. “We want to build that environment and ask ourselves as a club, how can we represent Latinx culture better, and how can we learn from other cultures no matter what culture you are from. Whatever background you have, you will be represented here. If it is not represented already, we will figure out a way.”