Texas A&M VMBS Receives Sixth Consecutive Excellence In Diversity Award

Story by Megan Myers, VMBS Communications

2022 HEED Health Professions logo

The Texas A&M School of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (VMBS) has received INSIGHT into Diversity’s Health Professions Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award for the sixth consecutive year.

The Health Professions HEED Award recognizes U.S. colleges of the health sciences that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion.

The VMBS is one of only six veterinary schools to receive the 2022 HEED Award and one of only two veterinary schools to receive the award for six years in a row. In addition, Texas A&M’s Texas A&M University Irma Lerma Rangel School of Pharmacy received a Health Professions HEED Award and Texas A&M University was named a 2022 HEED Award recipient for the fourth consecutive year.

“To be recognized with this award for sixth consecutive year is very special,” said Dr. John R. August, the Carl B. King Dean of Veterinary Medicine at Texas A&M. “I am extraordinarily proud of our school’s community that works very hard to make this place so welcoming and a great place to learn and work.”

The VMBS will be featured in the December 2022 issue of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, the oldest and largest diversity-focused publication in higher education.

“We are working hard to support and maintain a culture that allows each individual associated with our program to be their authentic self,” said Dr. Karen Cornell, associate dean for professional programs and interim director for the VMBS Office of Diversity & Inclusion. “There is always more to do and we are committed to continuing to create events that increase awareness and support for all members of our school.”

Diversity is a cornerstone value at the VMBS, and the school leads many initiatives throughout the year to strengthen its welcoming atmosphere and commitment to diversity and inclusion (D&I).

Students in a classroom listening to a mentorship panel
The VMBS hosted many new events in 2022, including a mentorship panel during Welcome Week.

In 2022, the VMBS’ Office for Diversity & Inclusion and the Committee for Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, & Accountability (C-IDEA) have launched several new events and campaigns for faculty, staff, and students.

In January, the school hosted its first “Coffee, Culture, & Conversations” event inviting artists of all kinds to display their work for classmates and colleagues. Ten individuals presented their art—ranging from music and poetry to nature photography and painting—and shared their artistic experiences and the thought behind their work.

C-IDEA also hosted several new workshops and events in recognition of Mental Health Awareness Month in May. The month began with “End-of-the-Semester Stress Relief & Snacks,” a large event featuring “puppy therapy” by Aggieland Pets with a Purpose, snacks and drinks, and a free green ribbon mental health awareness pin.

Other events in May included a Safety Breath Workshop led by Lisette Templin, from Texas A&M’s Department of Health and Kinesiology; a Stress Busting Workshop led by Abbie Satterfield and Tyler Baker-Wilkinson, from Texas A&M’s Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS); “Stress Relief Coffee & Snacks” in the Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital’s Critical Care Café; and a Question, Persuade, & Refer (QPR) Suicide Prevention training.

Event attendees were also invited to contribute to a gratitude/compliment wall and a “Mandalas for Mental Health” art project, which were displayed for the entire month.

The school also hosted its second annual Welcome Week in late August, which included an Inclusivity Fair to highlight resources available on campus; panels on first-generation student/American experiences and mentorship; a “Resilient Body & Mind” seminar; and a Bingo! Mixer to build new connections among faculty, staff, and students.

In recognition of Suicide Prevention Month in September, C-IDEA, the VMBS chapter of the Student American Veterinary Medical Association, and CAPS partnered to host “Surviving & Thriving: Managing your mental health, distress, & resilience,” a lunch and learn session to review the Merck Veterinary Wellbeing Study and discuss suicide risk, mental health, and resiliency.

Faculty member discussing her art projects, seen mounted on a board
Faculty member Dr. Meriam Saleh discusses her art at the first “Coffee, Culture, & Conversations” event.

In addition to new initiatives, the VMBS has continued to produce the monthly Diversity & Inclusion Digest e-newsletter and to host regular D&I events, including CIVITAS Community Storytelling hours and the “Spread the Love” fundraiser for The Trevor Project.

Faculty and staff members also continue to receive opportunities throughout the year to take a Basic Mediation course, become certified as an Aggie Ally, and more.

Finally, class activities and outreach opportunities like the Texas A&M REACH Project and Operation Border Health Preparedness encourage students to promote inclusivity and work to improve access to veterinary medicine both now and in their future careers.

VMBS students also continue to maintain several strong student organizations that are dedicated to supporting a welcoming learning environment, such as the Graduate Student Association, VOICE (Veterinarians as One Inclusive Community for Empowerment), TAMU Pride Student Veterinary Medical Community (PrideSVMC), the VMBS’ chapter of the Latinx Veterinary Medical Association (LVMA), and the VMBS White Coats.

“The Health Professions HEED Award process consists of a comprehensive and rigorous application that includes questions relating to the recruitment and retention of students and employees—and best practices for both—continued leadership support for diversity, and other aspects of campus diversity and inclusion,” said Lenore Pearlstein, publisher of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine. “We take a detailed approach to reviewing each application in deciding who will be named a Health Professions HEED Award recipient. Our standards are high, and we look for schools where diversity and inclusion are woven into the work being done every day across their campus.”

For more information about the 2022 Health Professions HEED Award, visit insightintodiversity.com, and for more information on the VMBS’ diversity and inclusion efforts, visit vetmed.tamu.edu/diversity.


For more information about the Texas A&M School of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, please visit our website at vetmed.tamu.edu or join us on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.

Contact Information: Jennifer Gauntt, Director of VMBS Communications, Texas A&M School of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences; jgauntt@cvm.tamu.edu; 979-862-4216

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