By Maria Estefania

Veterinary medicine is one of the least diverse medical professions, but I attend one of the most diverse veterinary schools in the United States.

The diversity at Tuskegee opens the door to many opportunities for students, like me, who come from different backgrounds.

This unique educational experience has taught me 3 key lessons that show the value of diversity.

1. Studying in a diverse environment makes you embrace who you are.

Diversity in the student population helps to break barriers of segregation. The result is an enriched cultural environment.

Tuskegee immerses us in diverse surroundings. It’s a space where we accept our differences, and it’s a space where discrimination has no place.

We embrace who we are, and we embrace where we come from.

2. Studying in a diverse environment gives you better insight into other people’s perspectives.

I see the amazing strength and determination of all my classmates as they face the challenges of vet school.

Little by little, I better understand their unique needs and concerns. I’ve familiarized myself with my classmates’ and professors’ traditions, languages, and beliefs.

I am sure that what I have learned from them will guide me to serve various communities in the future.

3. Studying in a diverse environment removes fear.

The diversity at Tuskegee allows me to showcase my Hispanic heritage without being afraid.

I teach other Hispanic students about the uniqueness of my Puerto Rican culture. I teach Spanish, and I see a genuine interest in others to become bilingual.

I try my best to teach some Spanish medical terms, and I become a translator if needed when traveling to externships. I see how diversity helps to break language barriers in this profession. This has an effect on us and the pets and clients we serve.

I am happy to have a better perspective on how diversity matters in this profession. Soon I’ll join the 10% of underrepresented minorities who receive a DVM, and I can’t wait to contribute to the diversity in the veterinary world.

Meet the author!

Maria Estefania

Maria Estefania

Veterinary Student

Maria Estefania is a fourth-year veterinary student at Tuskegee University School of Veterinary Medicine. She was born and raised in Arecibo, Puerto Rico. At a short age, her family fostered in her a genuine interest in animal care and welfare. She was dedicated to taking care of injured stray cats and volunteered at spay and neuter events. She received her bachelor’s degree in Microbiology from the University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo.

In her free time, she loves reading, writing, and telling her stories as a student blogger for the Merck Manual Vet Stories. After graduation, she plans to move to Los Angeles and work there as a small animal veterinarian. She aspires to become a role model for low-income students and inspire them to pursue their dreams of becoming a vet.

Find Maria on Instagram: @fania_thevetstudent

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