The beginning of a beautiful partnership

July 24, 2016

Colorado State University veterinary student brings instruction and inspiration to Navajo Nation high school students at his alma mater.

(Photo by John Eisele, Colorado State University)Patrick Succo was a 16-year-old student living in the Navajo Nation when he was inspired to become a veterinarian. 10 years later, the now 26-year-old Colorado State veterinary student is inspiring students at his alma mater to follow in his footsteps.

Succo's professional epiphany occurred while he was a student at Monument Valley High School in Kayenta, Arizona, according to a press release from Colorado State University. A member of the school's FFA chapter, Succo's dream of becoming a veterinarian materialized when his teacher organized an instructional clinic with professional veterinarians.

Now that he's two years into his veterinary program, Succo's dream has taken on a new component. He wants to use his position as a veterinary student to help build a partnership between the CSU Doctor of Veterinary Medicine Program and his former high school, with goals of both equipping Navajo high school students with basic veterinary skills in a region where livestock is an important source of income and motivating them to pursue higher education. This past June, his goals began to take shape.

Succo was the impetus behind a five-day veterinary summer camp put on for 60 high school students at Monument Valley High School's Agri-Science Center June 6-10. Succo and fellow CSU veterinary classmates provided instruction on a wide range of topics pertaining to pets, equine and livestock, including vaccinations, parasitology and wound and dental care. Knowing that cattle, sheep and horses are vital to Navajo agriculture, they were central features in several of the workshops.   

“I think we made a huge impact on the kids, their community, and the health of the animals in Kayenta,” Succo said in the release. “Kayenta community members are looking forward to more partnerships with our CSU veterinary school, and they would love to have us back next time.”

Kayenta community members aren't the only ones reaping benefits in this partnership, however. Leaders from Colorado State's veterinary program are now considering how a partnership with Monument Valley's Agri-Science Center could build medical skills and cultural competencies with its students.

Succo's work may eventually extend beyond Kayenta, as well. “Other schools and animal-related programs in the Navajo Nation have been contacting me about potentially sending veterinary students to their schools,” Succo said in the CSU release. “I think we made a great first impression.”