Boehringer Ingelheim pledges $500,000 scholarship to help address lack of diversity

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One incoming veterinary student from the Tuskegee University College of Veterinary Medicine will receive a $25,000 scholarship each year from the Boehringer Ingelheim CARES Foundation

Photo: Olga/Adobe Stock

Photo: Olga/Adobe Stock

In an effort to increase diversity in the veterinary profession, the Boehringer Ingelheim (BI) CARES Foundation recently announced a $500,000 scholarship pledge to support Tuskegee University College of Veterinary Medicine (TUCVM), has educated more than 70% of the nation’s Black veterinarians and is recognized as the most inclusive veterinary school among all veterinary medicine colleges in the United States. The pledge will culminate in an annual $25,000 scholarship to 1 incoming student and is expected to help alleviate the financial challenges that diverse aspiring veterinary students are often faced with, and that has often thwarted their pursuit of a career in this profession.1

“The TUCVM appreciates the intentional and impactful partnership we have with the Boehringer Ingelheim CARES Foundation,” Ruby L. Perry, dean of TUCVM said in a news release.1 “This notable $500,000 pledge in scholarships to our students aligns with the mission and vision of our college to sustain the legacy of training and educating underrepresented minorities as veterinarians in the veterinary profession.”

According to 2017 statistics from the US Bureau of Labor, 12% of the workforce is Black, yet, as of 2023, only 1.3% of veterinarians are Black, with a total of 10% of veterinarians being racially diverse.2,3 In other veterinary professions, diversity is also scarce with 2.3% of veterinary assistants and lab animal caretakers and 2.8% of non-farm animal caretakers being Black.2

Bonnie Barclay, DVM, MBA, senior professional services veterinarian at BI Vetmedica, and TUCVM graduate talked about the experience of Black people pursuing the veterinary profession.2 “In America, there are unconscious biases,” Barclay explained in an earlier news article.2 “Because you don’t look a certain way, or act a certain way, or speak a certain way, sometimes you won’t have as many opportunities.”

A degree in veterinary medicine can be costly, and this can have a disproportionate effect on students from diverse backgrounds. A 2020 survey revealed that on average, Black veterinary students graduate with more than $100,000 more debt than White students. For White graduates, the mean debt was $151,174, compared to $249,436 in debt for Black graduates.4

“If the problem of educational debt in veterinary medicine is left unchecked, there is a risk of saturation by those who can afford to attend veterinary school,” said Bridgette Bain, PhD, senior economist at the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), in the 2021 AVMA Colleges’ Annual Conference and Iverson Bell Symposium.4

“Currently, the typical veterinary graduate is a white woman from suburbia, and studies have shown that veterinarians prefer to work and open hospitals or clinics in areas that are similar to where they grew up. If this trend continues, there may be areas across the U.S. where there is a higher density of veterinarians than others,” Bain continued.

BI also hosts yearlong events at the TUCVM campus such as career fairs to showcase opportunities at BI and offers the elective course “Advancing Human Animal Health” for undergraduate students with an interest in the animal health industry.1

“Veterinary medicine in the United States is one of the least racially and ethnically diverse fields. Financial barriers are a significant part of the problem,” said Randolph Legg, president and head of commercial business at BI, in the news release.1 “Our partnership with Tuskegee University is a bold stride towards breaking down these barriers and fostering the success of diverse students passionate about veterinary medicine.”

References

  1. Boehringer Ingelheim CARES Foundation Ignites a Brighter Future in Vet Med with a $500,000 Scholarship Pledge to Tuskegee University College of Veterinary Medicine. News release. Boehringer Ingelheim. June 12, 2024. Accessed June 17, 2024. https://bi-animalhealth.com/tuskegee-boehringer-ingelheim-scholarship-veterinary-medicine
  2. Why mentors matter – especially for black veterinarians: One doctor’s story. Boehringer Ingelheim. Accessed June 17, 2024. https://www.boehringer-ingelheim.com/us/animal-health/why-role-models-matter-black-veterinarians-one-doctors-story
  3. Bautista-Alejandre A. Pawsibilities for students with aspirations of becoming veterinary professionals. dvm360. June 12, 2024. Accessed June 17, 2024. https://www.dvm360.com/view/pawsibilities-for-students-with-aspirations-of-becoming-veterinary-professionals
  4. Mattson K. Veterinary educational debt varies by sector, race. American Veterinary Medical Association. April 28, 2021. Accessed June 17, 2024. https://www.avma.org/javma-news/2021-05-15/veterinary-educational-debt-varies-sector-race
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