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AAVMP co-founders Hira Basit and Stephanie Kuo hope the organization inspires future generations of underrepresented groups to join the veterinary field.
Hira Basit, a Pakistani-American third-year student at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, and Stephanie Kuo, a Taiwanese-American fourth-year student at St. George’s University School of Veterinary Medicine, noticed how underrepresented Asians were in the profession and decided it was time to create change.
“It seems like a crazy statistic to me that only 1% of the students about to enter this field are Asian," Basit told dvm360 in a recent interview.
“Growing up, I never had an Asian veterinarian that I knew of, so just having that representation is really important to me and to Stephanie as well," Basit says. "We wanted to create a community where we could find each other.”
Kuo agrees, adding that the lack of representation contributes to lack of diversity. “When students see that there are people that look like them in the field, it can help inspire them,” Kuo says.
The Association of Asian Veterinary Medical Professionals (AAVMP) Instagram page was officially launched in April with a mission to help showcase the stories of Asians navigating their way through veterinary medicine and to promote diversity and inclusion within the profession, says Basit.
“We hope that by creating this organization, we inspire future generations of underrepresented populations to join the field and create a profession that really reflects the community that we serve," adds Kuo.
Basit and Kuo say they were inspired to form an affinity group after learning about the Blackdvm360 Network, an organization founded in 2018 to connect black veterinary students and professionals in the industry, and the Latinx Veterinary Medical Association (LVMA), an organization founded earlier this year to help empower Latinx veterinary professionals and students. They have since built relationships with both organizations and are currenly looking for ways to unite their efforts.
“I think it’s great that we formed a tight-knit community as minorities and have been able to support each other and come up with more solid ways to demand change in our field,” says Kuo.
Some of the AAVMP’s short-term goals include creating a directory of Asian veterinary professionals, hosting discussions about race-related issues, and connecting with other affinity groups within the profession.
Longer-term goals include creating scholarship and mentorship opportunities for Asian minority pre-veterinarian and/or veterinarian students, Basit says, noting that they would also like to “have more discussions on ally-ship options for non-Asian members, so that they can support their Asian colleagues in an impactful and constructive way.” One of the organization's overarching goals is to create AAVMP student chapters across the nation.
Learn more about this organization in the video below.