What is 'Hispanic?'
Not everyone knows the distinction between the term “Hispanic” and the term “Latinx,” or “Latino/a.”
“Hispanic” refers to people or aspects related to Spanish-speaking countries. “Latinx” refers to people or aspects related to Latin American countries. For example, people from Brazil, for whom Portuguese is the native tongue, may identify as Latinx but would not consider themselves Hispanic. It is generally accepted to use these terms when referring to groups of people from Latin American countries. When addressing an individual, we suggest refraining from this categorization and encourage all to respect others’ preferred identity(ies).
In the United States, September 15 kicks off National Hispanic Heritage Month, a celebration of Hispanic culture and the contributions Hispanic Americans have made to the world and to the United States—and in the case of the MSU College of Veterinary medicine, a celebration of contributions to the veterinary medicine community.
We talked to a few members of the College community who identify as Hispanic and/or Latinx, and they shared some favorite aspects of their cultures and some details about themselves. Meet them below.
Dr. Ángel Abuelo Sebio, Assistant Professor in Cattle Health and Wellbeing, Large Animal Clinical Sciences
Raised on a dairy farm, Dr. Abuelo Sebio is a dairy specialist veterinarian by training. His research focuses primarily on the interaction between nutrition and the immune system of neonatal dairy calves. In particular, he is interested in understanding how different nutritional interventions can improve the immune responses of calves and, therefore, increase their resistance to diseases. Full bio.
Hometown: Santiago de Compostela, Spain Favorite things about their Latinx/Hispanic culture: “Food and music, for sure!”
Dr. Paulo Carneiro, Professor, Comparative Medicine & Integrative Biology CMIB PhD Student
Dr. Carneiro’s research interests include epidemiology and ecology of zoonotic diseases, tuberculosis, brucellosis, bovine leukosis, dynamics of disease transition at the human-livestock-wildlife interface, and animal disease surveillance. Full bio.
Hometown: Manaus, Brazil Favorite things about their Latinx/Hispanic culture: “Food, sports, and music.”
Dr. Andrea Pla Gutierrez, Small Animal Rotating Intern
Dr. Pla Gutierrez has a special interest in radiology and cardiology. Full bio.
Hometown: Phoenix, Arizona Favorite things about their Latinx/Hispanic culture: “The natural beauty of our beaches, and rainforests; incredible seafood; and traditional music and dance.”
Jessica Suarez, DVM student
Hometown: Bogotá, Colombia Favorite things about their Latinx/Hispanic culture: “The music, food, and dancing!”
Alondra Mercedes Gallego, DVM student
Hometown: Queens, New York Favorite things about their Latinx/Hispanic culture: “Pan de bonos, chocolate, y mis vallenatos.”
Kimberly Guzman, DVM student
"My family is from Ecuador and I live in Belleville, New Jersey. I graduated from Rutgers University in Newark, NJ with a biology major and a psychology minor. Upon graduating from the College, I wish to work in small animal companion medicine, exotics/wildlife medicine, and research."
Hometown: Belleville, New Jersey/Cuenca, Ecuador Favorite things about their Latinx/Hispanic culture: “Dancing, llapingachos (potoatoes), how united we are, the beautiful paisaje (view).”
David Imai, DVM/MPH student
“I am currently a DVM/MPH student at MSU who will be graduating in 2021. I grew up in Los Angeles, CA. I attended UCLA for undergrad and studied English and Spanish literature. I am of Japanese and Mexican decent. I was raised by the Mexican side of my family and grew up surrounded by all the traditions, celebrations, humor, and customs, as they were all first-generation immigrants to the United States. As a result, my first language was Spanish. I am interested in veterinary public health as well as small animal medicine. Part of my interest in vet med came from experiences growing up where I had to translate for my grandmother when she took her cat to the vet. Not only was the field interesting to me, but I always thought about how nice it would have been to have someone be able to speak to her in Spanish directly. I feel that in the future, I can help others by being able to speak to them in their own language when necessary. My interests include English and Spanish literature, independent film (in any language), finding new recipes to try out, as well as encouraging diversity in vet med and wherever else I can.”
Hometown: Los Angeles, California Favorite things about their Latinx/Hispanic culture: “Traditions, the language, and especially the food!”
Elyse Ortega-Rybka, DVM student
Originally from San Diego, California, Elyse moved to Washington during her high school years. She obtained degrees in biology and criminology and sociology, and a minor in chemistry, from the University of Portland in Oregon. She has trained with DoveLewis Animal Emergency Hospital, and the Audobon Society of Portland to become a veterinarian, technician, and wildlife rehabilitator. She has enjoyed working in all different aspects of veterinary medicine, and most recently worked at a private oncology practice.
Hometown: Ferndale, Washington Favorite things about their Latinx/Hispanic culture: “Food, dance/song, colors of the traditional dresses/clothing, games, and how the houses are.”
Wilmer Cuervo, Research Assistant and PhD student
"My academic background is in animal science (bachelor's) and animal nutrition (diploma and magister). I worked for eight years as a faculty in the Animal Science department of UNAD university in Colombia. Currently, I am a PhD student at the Comparative Medicine and Integrative Biology in the College of Veterinary Medicine. My current interest as a student is to advance in my research, publish as many papers as I can, and start looking for a postdoc position. As a parent and husband, my interest is to increase our English proficiency and connections with other families."
Hometown: Bogotá, Colombia Favorite things about their Latinx/Hispanic culture: “Happiness of the Colombian people.”
Selena Hernandez, Veterinary Nursing student
Hometown: Guanajuato, Mexico Favorite things about their Latinx/Hispanic culture: “Language, music, food, artesanías.”
Melanie Chabin, DVM student
"I graduated with my bachelors in biology from the University of Nevada Las Vegas in 2019. I am currently in the Class of 2024. I am interested in wildlife rehabilitation, companion and exotic medicine with a possible specialty in integrative medicine (acupuncture) and surgery."
Hometown: Las Vegas, Nevada Favorite things about their Latinx/Hispanic culture: “Candombe (African-origin music that has its own festival), gaucho culture with horses. Food: alfajores and mate (it’s imperative that you have your mate and thermos).”
Valerie Carle, DVM student
Hometown: San Juan, Puerto Rico Favorite things about their Latinx/Hispanic culture: “Everything.”
Dr. Cynthia Lucidi, Academic Specialist, Clinical Pathology
Dr. Lucidi’s research interests include immune-mediated cytopenias, bone marrow disorders, flow cytometry, assay development, teaching and learning, and resident training and mentoring. Full bio.
Hometown: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Favorite things about their Latinx/Hispanic culture: “Brigadeiros, Saint John’s party (Festa Junina), celebrating Children’s Day.”
Priscilla DelRio, Medical Receiving Assistant, Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory
Favorite things about their Latinx/Hispanic culture: “Music, dance, food, and religion.”
Glorián Berríos Vázquez, Graduate Student
Glorián obtained her BS in General Biology from the University of Puerto Rico at Humacao. Glorián has worked in the College’s Gastrointestinal Stress Biology Lab.
Hometown: Humacao, Puerto Rico Favorite things about their Latinx/Hispanic culture: “Food, music, dance, hospitality of the people.”
Marie Negron Camacho, DVM student
“I have a bachelor's in animal science and a master's in animal science, focused on ruminant nutrition, both from the University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez Campus. Before my first year of veterinary school, I participated in the summer research program at MSU via the BRUSH program. I also participated in the Banfield Student Job Program these the last two summers. I like to watch series, hike, travel, play tennis, and go to the beach. I do not have any specialty yet, but my interests are small ruminants medicine, pathology, and mixed animal practice.”
Hometown: Corozal, Puerto Rico Favorite things about their Latinx/Hispanic culture: “My favorite thing about being Latinx/Puertorrican is the food, especially plantains, either mashed (mofongo) or fried (tostones). Salsa, merengue, bachata, bomba, and plena are the music and dances that I love.”
Stefany Gomez, DVM student
“I am a fourth-year veterinary student and plan to continue my education with a small animal rotating internship. My interests include small animal and equine medicine. Outside of vet med, I love to travel and indoor rock climb. I'll be taking the NAVLE very soon, wish me luck!”
Hometown: Elizabeth, New Jersey Favorite things about their Latinx/Hispanic culture: “The people are so welcoming, and any occasion is a reason to celebrate!”
Dr. Hilda Mejia Abreu, Associate Dean for Admissions, Student Life, and Inclusivity
Dr. Mejia Abreu originally served as the director of Admissions from 1993 to 1997, and as the assistant dean for Admissions and Student Services from 1997 to 2009. As the assistant dean, Mejia Abreu designed and implemented recruitment activities that increased the student body by over 35%. She returned to the College in 2016. In 2017, she was honored with MSU's Excellence in Diversity Award, and in 2018 she was awarded the LGBTQ+ Advocacy Award by the Broad Spectrum Veterinary Student Association.
Orlando Ochoa, DVM student
Hometown: North Hollywood, California
Maygan Cuevas, DVM Student
Hometown: San Juan, Puerto Rico
Stephanie Monterroso, DVM Student
Hometown: Los Angeles, California