By Katheryn L. Sullivan Kutil on March 19, 2018

Kyra Heirich, DVM Class of 2020, was awarded a 2017 Lesbian and Gay Veterinary Medical Association (LGVMA) Veterinary Medical Student Leadership Grant. 

Funded by Zoetis and Hill’s Pet Nutrition, the LGVMA Veterinary Medical Student Leadership Grant sponsors leadership activities and programs that align with LGVMA’s mission and vision.

LGVMA envisions a veterinary medical profession in which all individuals live to their full potential, both personally and professionally, conduct their lives openly and with integrity, and freely share their experience and wisdom for the betterment of and care for themselves, the veterinary medical profession, and their clients and all animals.

“Fostering a queer community is something I have wanted to do since I first started out at the College,” says Heirich. “Recognition by this grant shows that the College’s administration cares about what I am doing with the Broad Spectrum Veterinary Student Association at MSU (BSVSA-MSU) and that diversity and inclusion are priorities.”

BSVSA-MSU also is known as the Pride Pack. The name was chosen to represent the club’s main priority of building a social support network for LBGTQ+ veterinary medical, veterinary technology, and graduate students and allies in the College. The Pride Pack has been established as a subdivision of MSU chapter national student organization Veterinarians as One Inclusive Community for Empowerment (VOICE). Until recently, when Sarah Rich, DVM class of 2021, joined as co-president, Heirich handled all planning, proposals, and finances. “My goal is to establish the basic club structure so that more students will join, bring their ideas, and make it their own,” says Heirich.

LGVMA’s Veterinary Medical Student Leadership Grant will allow Heirich to expand BSVSA-MSU’s resources and connect with individuals in and outside of the College community.

“What I really like about the LGVMA grant is that they are encouraging of intersectionality by recognizing that queer issues are not only queer issues, but that there is overlap with challenges faced by minorities, individuals with disabilities, etc.,” says Heirich. “Rather than focusing on our differences, I want to help show the College community how much we have to learn from one another’s experiences.”

This summer, Heirich will be attending the Midwestern Iverson Bell Summit at the Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine and the American Veterinary Medical Association Professional Convention in Denver, Colorado. She also will use a portion of the award to send a fellow student to represent MSU’s BSVSA chapter at the Student American Veterinary Medical Association Annual Symposium at the University of Pennsylvania.

“I am looking forward to networking with student leaders from other schools, talking to professionals in the veterinary medical field, and hopefully identifying veterinarians willing to come present to our chapter,” says Heirich.