Yvette Huizar is a fourth-year veterinary student at Cornell CVM and co-founder of the Latinx Veterinary Medical Association. She was born and raised in Central California and completed her undergraduate career at UC Berkeley. Her aspiration to be a veterinarian started at a young age and she owes it to the many summers and school breaks she spent on my grandparents’ farm in Zacatecas, Mexico. Some of her veterinary interests include imaging, exotics, and emergency medicine. Her plan after graduation is to join an emergency veterinary practice.
1- What motivated you to create the Latinx Veterinary Medical Association (LVMA)?
My big motivation in creating the LVMA is to provide opportunities and resources that myself and so many other Latinx students and veterinarians have lacked in our veterinary journey. Very few of us grew up seeing Latinx veterinarian role models to guide us and we know role models help inform youth about what is possible for them. Many of us are first generation college graduates navigating higher education with little help from our families. Veterinary school is difficult and being one of few persons of color in predominantly white veterinary colleges adds its own set of challenges. I strongly believe that those of us that have made it through and are aware of these struggles have a responsibility to help the next generation succeed!
When I learned that there was no representative body for Latinx veterinarians, I was determined to make that change. Cultural professional organizations serve the important role of bringing to light issues that affect our communities such as access to veterinary care and language barriers which impact patient care. They also advocate for their members within the profession. The need for this type of community for Latinxs in veterinary medicine was evident and a driving force for creating the LVMA.
2- What is the primary mission of the LVMA?
Our mission is to empower Latinx/Hispanic veterinary professionals and support the next generation of Latinx/Hispanic veterinarians. Our four pillars of empowerment guide our mission and they are professional development, mentorship, scholarship, and educational outreach.
3- What are some short-term goals and long-terms of this association?
In the short term, we are launching a Latinx veterinarian directory with the individual option to be listed on our website for students and clients to access. We will also provide client handouts in Spanish available for download on our website to help veterinarians with client education.
In the long term we aim to have mentorship programs established for Latinx pre-veterinary students and veterinary students. Mentorship is a great way for veterinarians to help Latinx students and is an opportunity to build community through these interpersonal connections.
4- How do you think the LVMA can impact the Latino community in the United States and Canada?
The LVMA will increase visibility of Latinx professionals in veterinary medicine and create much needed veterinarian role models for our Latinx youth. We need kids to have exposure to this career field and inspire more of them to become veterinarians. We will achieve this via our outreach initiatives and social media platforms. Increasing education about veterinary care in the Latino community and making veterinary information available in Spanish will greatly benefit Latinos and their pets! In addition, our Latinx veterinarian directory can help clients find a Latinx or Spanish speaking veterinarian near them. Having a veterinarian that speaks your language and has some cultural understanding is invaluable.
5- For last, why are you proud of becoming a future Latinx Veterinarian?
I am proud to soon be a Latina veterinarian because I know how much this will mean for my Spanish speaking clients; not having your child have to translate veterinary information for you, not wondering if you understood how to give medication, not being concerned about whether the veterinarian understood your concerns. Like so many of my colleagues, I will be an example that Latinxs do belong in veterinary medicine and will be able to help aspiring Latinx vets achieve their goals. Lastly, I am proud to be a future Latina veterinarian because I have overcome challenges associated with my identity in order to become who I want to be.