Program helps underrepresented groups practice veterinary medicine.
By Glenn McDonald
Lexi High always wanted to be a veterinarian. “Since I was, like, four years old,” says High, who grew up on a large animal farm in Laurel Hill, N.C. She’s well on her way, thanks in large part to a program designed to make careers in veterinary medicine more accessible to minority students and those from rural areas.
In 2021, High was the first beneficiary of the University of North Carolina System Veterinary Education Access program, a joint agreement with NC State and UNC-Pembroke. Established in 2017, the program grants selected Pembroke graduates admission to NC State’s College of Veterinary Medicine, provided they meet academic and extracurricular criteria.
Each year, a selection committee from both schools picks up to two students and one alternate from the first-year class in the UNC-Pembroke biology program. Pembroke has a relatively high percentage of students that identify as minority. According to the university, 31% identify as Black, 13% as Native American and 8% as Hispanic or Latino.
In 2022, the program’s second two scholars — Allyson Lane and Allyson Chavis — graduated from Pembroke into the vet med program. Chavis is a member of the Lumbee Tribe and the first Native American to participate in the program. Lane grew up with High, in Scotland County, N.C., near Pembroke.
As it happens, all three are roommates in Raleigh. And in the end, they each plan to work in North Carolina as veterinarians.