The Minorities in Animal Science Students Club (MASS) provides a safe space for underrepresented Animal Science students through meetings, events and networking opportunities. The club recently collaborated with the Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine to create a mentorship program for pre-veterinary students. Learn more about how the program offers guidance and support to undergraduate students!
“The path to vet school is ambiguous,” said Brandon Garcia ’23. “As a freshman or transfer pre-veterinary medicine student, coming to Cornell can be daunting! You’re nervous about making friends, excelling in academics and wondering if you’re eventually going to apply to vet school.” Garcia ’23 is a senior pre-vet student who has been the president of MASS for two years and encourages incoming students to find groups that provide guidance and community building. “MASS is how I found my community. It’s an inclusive group that acknowledges the lack of representation in the animal science field. Since joining freshman year, I’ve been able to see the club grow and evolve. Being able to have a pre-vet mentoring program is a recent and wonderful perk to our club.”
Faculty Advisor and Assistant Professor in Animal Science, Kristan Foster Reed agrees. “It’s easy to encourage undergraduate students to push through those challenging classes. It’s another step to find and provide them with appropriate programs and support systems to get them to vet school. The pre-vet mentoring program is perfect for this reason.”
Established in 2022, the pre-vet mentoring program pairs MASS students with current Cornell Vet students in a mentor-mentee relationship. The program gives minority students the opportunity to form connections with veterinary students who were once in their place.
The program hosts three events per semester. Held last spring, the first event matched undergraduate students with a vet student mentor through extracurricular or animal specialty interest. “It’s important to have mentors you can identify with and talk to,” said Claira Seely, a graduate student in Animal Science and active member in the Animal Science Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee. Working with Reed, Garcia ’23 and other MASS students, Seely is eager to create more opportunities for minority students. “The Cornell Vet mentors have gone through so much to get to where they are today and it’s crucial for MASS students to hear their perspectives.”
Recently, the program hosted an internship workshop where MASS students heard from Director of Veterinary Admissions, Jennifer Mailey, and Dean of Student and Academic Services, Jai Sweet, to learn more about finding, applying and choosing pre-veterinary internship opportunities during their undergraduate experience. Students also connected with their mentors to ask questions about the internship process. “ It’s great to see how eager the students are to hear from their mentors,” said Sweet. “They are the next generation of students who might be at the vet school, and it’s encouraging for us to provide them more opportunities to further their ambitions. And our vet students want to be involved in programs that are making a difference in the field.”
Though he is graduating this spring, Garcia ’23 hopes the program continues on for interested students. “My next goal for the program is to expand to alumni who did not specialize in veterinary medicine in undergrad. Not everyone majoring in animal science wants to go to vet school, and it’s important for other animal science undergrads to meet and form connections and mentorships with people in the alumni community.”
Caroline Stamm ’24 is a student writer for the Cornell CALS Department of Animal Science.
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