Largest veterinary school in America works to fill critical void from TN home
Lincoln Memorial University is the 30th School of Veterinary Medicine in the country and is the largest.
HARROGATE, Tenn. (WVLT) - In 2011, officials at the Lincoln Memorial University had the idea to create a College of Veterinary Medicine on the campus in Harrogate.
The first class graduated in 2018, marking the 30th school in the United States to produce veterinarians.
Today the school is the largest in the country, with 225 students enrolling yearly split between a fall and spring cohort.
”The mountains and just things like that, the people here the southern hospitality, it’s awesome, it’s just awesome,” said Taylor England a third-year CVM student at LMU.
England is from rural West Virginia and gravitates towards any and all animals.
She knew she wanted to be a vet and after graduating from a small undergrad, she gravitated towards LMU.
”It’s easy to overlook a school that’s up and coming and is new and that you’re maybe just hearing about for the first time,” said England. “My advice would be to give it a chance.”
Her third-year cohort classmate Jesse Gebert is from Appalachia as well, her interest in LMU was spiked when she would visit the sprawling Harrogate campus as a kid.
”I’ve been hiking around this area, I remember when there was dog shows on the property I actually went to the library when I was a little kid and saw all the books on vet tech and said yea that sounds great,” said Gebert.
Gebert and England both gravitated to the small setting at LMU, driven to serve the communities, or ones like them, that they grew up in.
”Having more people out here to give different points of view and more treatments is only going to benefit this area more,” said Gebert.
The two being from Appalachia and going to LMU wasn’t by luck.
”Lincoln Memorial University’s mission is to serve Appalachia,” said Stacy Anderson, the Dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine at LMU.
40% of the students in the LMU CVM class are from Appalachia, with many of them returning to the mountains post-graduation.
”We’re really trying to bring education to, like you said, an underserved area,” said Anderson.
Refilling a void in a region often forgotten is driving LMU to educate the next generation of veterinarians.
Inside the current first-year fall cohort is another success story working to fill a representation void.
”It shows that you’re capable of going anywhere that you need to go and what you need to do,” said Anecia Whitehead, a first-year student in the College of Veterinary Medicine.
Whitehead is from Maryland, she is also an African American woman working to show that this line of work is for people who look like her too.
“Black Americans and African Americans are out in this filed and this field is for them,” said Whitehead.
It’s representation in a field starved for both quality workers, and diversity.
Whitehead along with her classmates and instructors at LMU are all working to fill a void in a line of work that’s stretched thin, while also showing the field is for everyone and not just a select few.
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