MSU AAVMP: Burgeoning Club
Provides Community, Support,
and Celebration

By Raquel Mueller

When the 2021 veterinary and veterinary nursing incoming classes explored the student organizations available to them in their freshman year, several noticed the lack of a space for APIDA (Asian, Pacific Islander, Desi American) students to build a community within veterinary medicine. Two years later, the club is thriving and offering a myriad of opportunities to members.

Veterinary medicine notoriously lacks diversity. However, increasingly diverse student bodies and student advocacy at the College have birthed several diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI)-oriented clubs.

DEI clubs in 2021 included the BIPOC club (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) and MSU LVMA (Latinx Veterinary Medical Association), but the original MSU AAVMP members were ready to fill the gap and founded MSU AAVMP (Association of Asian Veterinary Medical Professionals).

“We wanted to create a place where we could relate to each other both culturally and with the struggles that come with being Asian. As the year went on, people approached us saying how excited they were that we had this little community for ourselves — it drove us to be more dedicated,” says Jennifer Ding, DVM class of 2025 and vice president of MSU AAVMP.

MSU AAVMP is a student chapter of the national AAVMP organization, which “strives to create a community for Asian veterinary professionals and to establish a veterinary field that reflects the diverse communities that we serve,” per the AAVMP website

The MSU chapter mirrors this goal. Tina Tran, DVM class of 2025 and MSU AAVMP event coordinator, also became involved for community. She explains, “Being Asian is a big part of my identity. Finding a community where I can share and grow from the experiences we’ve had is important. Especially in veterinary medicine, where Asians are underrepresented.”

The founding group started with small events and big hopes for the future. “When we first started, we had no funding. So trying to plan events was challenging. We started by doing little things like movie nights. Those were good, small events that could help us build community without being stressed about resources,” explains Haehyun Shin, DVM class of 2025 and MSU AAVMP president. “And our social events are a fun way to relax — these events knit everyone closer together, while also sharing our culture.”

Though movie nights are still on the program, things have grown since then.

Along with events to build community among Asian students, MSU AAVMP extends invitations to the wider College community including faculty, staff, and friends and families of students, including those not of Asian descent. Shin, Ding, and Tran emphasized that cultural education and celebration are an important part of MSU AAVMP programming.

“We had our very first Lunar New Year event as a club last year!” says Ding.

“It was a great turnout,” adds Tran. “We invited anyone in the College community to celebrate Lunar New Year with us. A lot of us are not able to be at home to celebrate with our families, so it was nice to get together and have a fun way to celebrate among our community. A lot of people who don’t identify as Asian also came just to learn. We had fun games and food for all attendees so they could expose themselves to what it means to celebrate Lunar New Year together.”

The ‘home away from home’ aspect especially resonates for college students, whose families may be across state or national lines. MSU AAVMP provides a space for the College community to come together and celebrate major cultural holidays with a community that feels like family.

Additionally, MSU AAVMP strives to provide opportunities and support for students’ veterinary journeys. Speaker events have included APIDA veterinary professionals who provide insight into navigating the field as a member of an underrepresented group, as well as networking opportunities.

AAVMP students giving presentation and in front of Spartans Will sign. AAVMP students holiday fun.

With the majority being third-year students, a concern for the current eboard is passing the torch to younger classes to ensure the club keeps up the good work. Groundwork is already being laid to grow the club and provide more opportunities in the coming years. Shin hopes to expand the club’s reach to include pre-veterinary students. “I know that the incoming classes have been getting more and more diverse, so letting pre-veterinary students know that there is a community here at the College once they are accepted to the program is also important,” she says.

“Another one of our goals is to collaborate with the other AAVMP chapters — over Zoom or at national conferences — to build more of a national network for our members,” adds Ding.

Big event ideas are also cooking. “This year, we’re going to try to collaborate with the other DEI clubs to do a bigger cultural event to celebrate intersectionally,” says Tran of her events goals. “I think it would be amazing if we could bring all of us together and not only celebrate our culture but also all aspects of diversity each of us brings to veterinary medicine.”

Outline drawing of two people with a flag.