The Council is in Session: Q&A with
Members of the Alumni Advisory Council

By Kelsie Donaldson

In January of 2023, the College of Veterinary Medicine Alumni Advisory Council was rebuilt with an increased emphasis on inclusion of all types of alumni: veterinarians, veterinary nurses, graduate students, and boarded specialists, with graduation years spanning from the 1970s to the 2010s. In this Q&A, three Council members give their thoughts on being a part of the group, the value of engagement with the College, and the Council’s goals. The featured members are: Sarah Carroll (LVT ’15), a licensed veterinary technician at Friendship Animal Hospital; Nick Lippard (MS in Online Food Safety ’20), a regulatory and wellbeing business partner at Kellanova; and Stephen C. Steep (DVM ’97), the owner of Oxford Veterinary Hospital.

Why did you decide to join the CVM Alumni Advisory Council?

Carroll: Joining the Alumni Advisory Council was a great opportunity to reconnect with the College since graduating and find out more about some of the great things that are happening there. I also was excited to offer my input and perspective as a veterinary technician on the council.

Lippard: I wanted to lend my voice to the Alumni Advisory Council on behalf of my fellow alumni, and to help shape the value of being an alum of CVM and MSU in people’s careers and lives. The graduates of the Online Food Safety (OFS) Program are a diverse group across a wide scope of food safety professionals, and I wanted to be able to help our growing alumni network feel connected and engaged with the College and OFS to strengthen the community we all share as graduates of MSU.

Steep: I was surprised and delighted to receive the invitation and considered it a unique opportunity. Returning to the College is always a welcome event, and this was magnified by the prospect of meeting other alums and gaining insight into the College’s current status.

What is one goal of the Council that you hope to help it achieve?

Carroll: One of the goals of the Council is to simply connect with more alumni of the College, either in person at events or even interacting via social media, such as LinkedIn. As a veterinary technician, I am particularly invested in reaching the veterinary nursing alums. There is such a great network of MSU vet techs out there, and I think a lot of the alumni from this program just aren’t aware of the events and connections that are available to them.

Lippard: I hope to help increase the engagement and connection with fellow alumni of CVM and bring the benefits of community to those who may be missing out. I know we all can get busy in life and tend to focus on the things that are closest to us, but helping the Council identify and engage those who may have disconnected and drifted away from CVM will strengthen the community.

Steep: A lifelong communication link for every alum.

When it comes to the age, gender, and profession of its members, how does the diverse nature of the Council impact the conversations at meetings?

Carroll: The diversity of the group truly drives the conversations of the Council. We have members that work in so many different professional capacities, and we all have varied experiences in our careers. This provides lots of different perspectives on the topics we discuss.

Lippard: The Council is incredibly diverse, with a wide range of people, experiences, and professions that help lend a different perspective from that of my own experience. It’s refreshing to meet so many different and interesting professionals, and it leads to riveting discussions on the unique and sometimes common challenges we all face within our careers and lives.

Steep: Often in our professional lives, we become limited by our own experiences, and we may fail to appreciate the diversity in our profession and the challenges faced by our colleagues in other disciplines. The Council, comprising professionals from different generations, brings many voices to the table. This diverse representation stimulates and enlightens our efforts to better serve the College.

What is the value of staying engaged with the College?

Carroll: I think it is important for all alums to stay engaged with the College because it provides a great opportunity to give back to the programs that have shaped our careers. There are opportunities for networking, sharing ideas, and chances to engage with students and recent grads who are just starting out in their jobs. I am personally looking forward to opportunities to connect with students and provide mentorship.

Lippard: Staying engaged with the College and my fellow alumni helps me feel more grounded and connected to my peers, which creates a sense of community and consistency through the constant change that is modern life. Being a part of this community means getting answers and support for specific challenges or questions, along with the chance to connect with other professionals.

Steep: Regardless of our graduation year, the time spent at the College of Veterinary Medicine formed the foundation of our professional careers, and our relationship did not end with receiving our diplomas. The College also serves as a referral center and sentinel for emerging diseases, provides important laboratory services, and is responsible for educating future generations of veterinarians. The College has a profound impact on our careers, and it will always hold a special place in the heart of every CVM Spartan.