Dr. Hilda Mejia Abreu, associate dean of Admissions, Student Life, and Inclusivity (ASI) at the MSU College of Veterinary Medicine, is the 2022 recipient of the Iverson Bell Midwest Region Award.
The award is granted at the annual Iverson Bell Midwest Regional Diversity Summit, which is held at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine. Named after the first African-American vice president of the American Veterinary Medical Association, the award recognizes contributions in widening access to veterinary medical education among underrepresented populations.
“Dr. Mejia Abreu has made not only the College and MSU a more diverse place over the past years, but has served as a leader in diversity, equity, and inclusion to the American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges, the National Association of Diversity Officers in High Education, the planning committee for the Iverson Bell Midwest Regional Summit, and much more,” says Dr. Birgit Puschner, dean of the College. “I cannot emphasize enough that Dr. Mejia Abreu is an extraordinary DEI leader in the veterinary profession and in higher education. And being extraordinary takes grit; it goes beyond the status quo of conventional capabilities. It’s not being complacent with what is—it relishes the possibilities of what’s next.”
"I’m deeply honored to receive this recognition from the committee," says Mejia Abreu, "and have been proud to work with dedicated colleagues from veterinary schools and organizations across the country, including my colleagues here at Michigan State, in a shared, important goal. Together, we will continue to enhance diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice in our field."
"And being extraordinary takes grit; it goes beyond the status quo of conventional capabilities. It’s not being complacent with what is—it relishes the possibilities of what’s next.”
—Dr. Birgit Puschner, Dean of the College
Mejia Abreu was selected for her extensive work in promoting inclusivity inside and outside of the College. Under her leadership, the College initiated a DEI-focused strategic plan that has guided programs such as the College’s Enrichment Summer Program and the implementation of an Inclusivity Knowledge Center. She is part of the team who received a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant with a focus on the development of the Multicultural Scholars Program, which provides scholarships for and mentors veterinary students from backgrounds that are underrepresented in the profession.
Additionally, under her lead, the Office of ASI advances initiatives with K-12 schools that expose youths to a potential career in veterinary medicine. Recently, the College was awarded a grant by Purina to boost its partnership with Detroit International Academy for Young Women. The partnership entails, in part, a resource room dedicated to hands-on STEM activities for students, as well as access to mentorship opportunities with veterinary and veterinary nursing students.
Mejia Abreu the Office of ASI also directly mentor and support student organizations and volunteer programs that put students at the College directly in local communities, including the This is How We Role program at Edgewood Community Center in East Lansing.
Altogether, the efforts of Mejia Abreu, the Office of ASI, and the ASI’s Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion have led to the College being awarded the Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award for the second time in 2021.