Students at the MSU College of Veterinary Medicine give back to their local community in innumerable ways, including serving as mentors and role models for youths.
Three students share their experiences below. Each is a mentor at This Is How We Role, an after-school childcare program at Edgewood Village, a residential community in East Lansing, Michigan. The program is supported by the Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) program of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) of the National Institutes of Health. The student science tutors are led by Dr. Alba Sanchez Leone.
Uzma Manzoor, DVM Class of 2024
About: "My name is Uzma Manzoor (she/her) and I am a second-year DVM student. I share my life and home with my wonderful husband, two beautiful daughters, and three fur-children. While veterinary medicine is a second career for me, my passion for animal health and behavior has always been an important part of my life. In my first career, as a behavior specialist, I worked with children with different abilities and spent a lot of time advocating for people from different walks of life. I continue to passionately advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion in veterinary medicine and currently serve as president of the College’s BIPOC Club, Veterinary Wellness Initiative, and the Animal Behavior Club. I am also the DEI class representative for DVM class of 2024. I believe in actively bringing change within our communities and therefore being a mentor through the How We Role program has personally been an important endeavor."
What does serving as a youth mentor mean to you? “As veterinarians, one of our greatest responsibilities is to contribute to the betterment of the communities we serve. And as a mentor in this program, I am helping young minds feel empowered about their futures and guiding them to follow a career path in veterinary medicine. Additionally, this program is allowing me to implement the greatest change I wish to see in this field, which is to create a more diverse, inclusive, and equitable environment for everyone!”
Juan Rosales, DVM Class of 2024
About: Juan Rosales earned a bachelor’s degree in biology and a master’s degree in anatomy before pursuing a doctor of veterinary medicine degree at the MSU College of Veterinary Medicine. Rosales serves as the marketing director for the College’s chapter of the Veterinary Business Management Association, and expects to graduate in 2024.
Why did you apply to be a mentor for This is How We Role? “Ever since moving to America seven years ago, I have been blessed with amazing opportunities ultimately leading to me being part of such a prestigious program here at the MSU veterinary school. This program not only allows me to educate the youth but also gives me the platform to show other minority students that with hard work, anything is possible, even a kid from Guatemala becoming a great veterinarian someday, which I am so close to achieving.”
What does serving as a youth mentor mean to you? “It means that I have been given a great responsibility to lead these kids into the future. Their parents and teachers have put their trust in me and allowed me to create meaningful relationships with all these kids. My goal is to be able to have even a little bit of an impact in these kids’ lives and that someday in the future they remember me kindly if they choose to follow the vet med path.”
Maygan Cuevas-Oquendo, DVM Class of 2024
About: “My name is Maygan Cuevas-Oquendo, a current second-year veterinary student at MSU College of Veterinary Medicine. I graduated from the University of Puerto Rico, where I completed my undergraduate education as a veterinary technologist and a master’s of Public Health. My interests include small and large animals (particularly cattle), alongside conservation efforts. One of my biggest goals through veterinary medicine as a public health professional is to work with the community and promote veterinary care accessibility. I consider myself an advocate of the One Health Initiative, integrating human, environmental, and animal care towards transdisciplinary wellbeing.”
Why did you apply to be a mentor for This is How We Role? “I saw in the This Is How We Role program an opportunity to contribute to the community by empathizing with those of similar backgrounds as me and becoming the representation I did not have growing up. As a first-generation college student and a Latina, I acknowledge there are multiple barriers on the road to professional and personal success. I believe this kind of program can open doors and provide tools to help build up confidence for the future generation, promoting diversity and inclusion in all STEM fields.”
What does serving as a youth mentor mean to you? “Recognizing that lack of representation and guidance limits the professional aspirations of children has made my mentorship experience significant. Working with youth is a great responsibility as they are at a crucial developmental stage, constructing their perspectives on the world and themselves. For that, I am beyond grateful to be given the opportunity to positively influence and inspire the upcoming generation.”
Pictured left to right: Manzoor, Rosales, and Cuevas-Oquendo smile in front of Edgewood Village.
Rosales, left, works with students at the This Is How We Role afterschool program. "My goal is to be able to have even a little bit of an impact in these kids’ lives and that someday in the future they remember me kindly if they choose to follow the vet med path," Rosales says.
Cuevas-Oquendo, left, watches two girls at the afterschool program. "Working with youth is a great responsibility as they are at a crucial developmental stage, constructing their perspectives on the world and themselves," Cuevas-Oquendo says.
Manzoor, center, and two young students. "As veterinarians, one of our greatest responsibilities is to contribute to the betterment of the communities we serve. And as a mentor in this program, I am helping young minds feel empowered about their futures and guiding them to follow a career path in veterinary medicine," Manzoor says.
The three DVM student strike a pose with some of their youth mentees at the afterschool program.