Fall is in the air. It is true. I try to hide that fact from my husband, but the small herds of students moving around a now vibrant campus, after the quiet days of summer, tell the whole story.
At the College of Veterinary Medicine, we welcomed 137 new veterinary students, 143 new undergraduate students, 24 new graduate students, and our first pilot cohort of paraprofessional students — students who are learning to be veterinary scribes to support our veterinarians and veterinary technicians and gaining their own clinical experience.
Nearly three-fourths of our veterinary students hail from Washington, Idaho, Montana, and Utah, but students from 17 other states and Canada have also joined us. Almost half state an interest in small animal medicine, but we have strong cohorts of equine-focused students (19%) and agricultural animal focused students (22%). The majority of our student groups are female, following the national trend in higher education. Our students at all levels are a mix of first-generation students (on average about 25%) and students who are following in family’s footsteps. I am always delighted to meet students who were inspired by parents or grandparents that were scientists or veterinarians. Regardless of background, we want all students to be able to see themselves in science – whether it be public health, big data, small molecules and proteins, brain biochemistry, or health and disease.
We welcome our students with formal events, like convocation for entering undergraduates (ending with the WSU fight song and confetti) and a white coat ceremony for veterinary students (ending with cupcakes, always a lovely end). These are important rites of passage. They remind faculty of their commitment to education and the students we serve. For students, it marks transition. They are embarking on a journey that will lead, in the best case, to a passion for learning and a deep connectedness to new friends, colleagues, alumni, the Palouse, the college and to WSU. Welcome all new Cougs. It is an honor to walk this path with you.
Be safe, healthy, happy, and stay hopeful.