Celebrating our Veterinary Heroes: Nia Powell

dvm360dvm360 July 2023
Volume 54
Issue 7
Pages: 39

For the third year, dvm360 is recognizing industry professionals who are advancing the field and improving the lives of patients, clients, and staff with our Rising Star (Veterinary Student) winner, Nia Powell

dvm360 is pleased to present the 2023 class of Veterinary Heroes. Nominated by their peers and selected for the recognition by a committee of esteemed veterinary professionals, 15 award recipients were chosen in various veterinary industry roles and specialties in this third annual program.

The Veterinary Heroes recognition program, which is supported by Rising Star category sponsor Thrive Pet Healthcare, celebrates the achievements of outstanding veterinary professionals who are advancing the field and making a difference in animal care. These winners will be honored on Thursday, August 24, 2023, in conjunction with a Fetch dvm360 conference in Kansas City, Missouri.

Make sure to register for Fetch Kansas City if you have not already!

Rising Star (Veterinary Student) winner: Nia Powell

This category is sponsored by Thrive Pet Healthcare

Nia Powell

Nia Powell

It wasn’t like Nia Powell, a fourth-year veterinary student at North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine in Raleigh, had an epiphany or some sort of life event that prompted her to want to become a veterinarian. She always just knew.

“I wish I had a cool story, but I just have always wanted it, and I don’t know where it came from,” Powell said. “I didn’t have pets growing up. I never took my pet to the veterinarian and was like, ‘I want to be like them.’ I think I just always had this passion for animals, and as I got older and started actually doing things in the field, I really liked the medicine behind it. I like solving puzzles. I love working with animals but also working with people and [having] that client interaction.”

Powell explained that although there was no aha moment, she was inspired to investigate veterinary medicine after being a fan of the television show The Vet Life, starring 3 Black male veterinarians working in a hospital in Houston, Texas. For Powell, these men became role models because she was able to see people who looked like her owning a hospital and performing surgeries on pets.

With her career path mapped out in her mind, Powell attended a veterinary camp, where she got to watch procedures and hear from veterinary students. Her experience at the camp convinced her to pursue a career in veterinary medicine. During her undergraduate studies, however, she began to debate if this was truly her calling.

“I had a quarter-life crisis and didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life anymore and was like, ‘I don’t know [whether] I want to go to vet school because I really love it or [because it’s] the only thing that I’ve ever said [I wanted to do], and that’s what people expect for me. So I took 2 gap years and moved to Charlotte,” Powell explained.

She began working as a veterinary technician and in higher education as a backup in case veterinary school was no longer what she wanted. Still, she applied to veterinary and graduate schools. Once accepted to veterinary school, she realized it was what she wanted to do.

Powell’s Veterinary Heroes nominator wrote that she is an advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and LGBTQ+ and recently presented on the topic of DEI at a large veterinary conference. “Nia has been an advocate for minorities, gender equality, and inclusion initiatives,” wrote her nominator. “She is a hero to so many in the social media space for her consistent advocacy for [DEI] both in and out of the profession.”

As she enters her final year of veterinary school, Powell wanted to share this advice with current or future veterinary students: “I think a lot of times, people will say, ‘Oh, [veterinary school] is hard.’ And being a vet is hard….But even on my hardest days, I still love this. So I would always just encourage people to not listen to the negativity. And if you really want to be in this field and this is what you want to do, you can do it. Yes, it’s hard. But it’s great on the other side.”

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