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K-State Today

June 22, 2018

U.S.-China Joint DVM Program at Kansas State University celebrates past and current students during annual homecoming

By Gabriella Doebele

Students in the program pose for a group photo with visitors and VIPs for the event.

Another year, another graduate! On June 5, Kansas State University's College of Veterinary Medicine hosted its annual homecoming for the U.S.-China Joint DVM Program. The lone 2018 graduate, Aolei Chen, earned her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Minnesota.

The U.S.-China Joint DVM Program provides for the selection of four Chinese students each year to study for a veterinary degree in the United States. Students must complete one year in the pre-veterinary program at K-State, after which they can enroll in the four-year veterinary programs at K-State or one of its partnering schools in the U.S.

The homecoming event included reports from 21 of the students who just finished their pre-veterinary year at K-State and/or are currently working on their Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at K-State, the University of Minnesota, Iowa State University or the University of California, Davis.

Chen knows graduating is just the tip of the iceberg. She looks forward to making a lasting impact in her home country.

"Veterinary school is just the starting point of our career; lifelong learning is the key," Chen said. "I cannot guarantee that I can affect all the people that I interact with. But, if I can influence them — two of them — and each of them influence another two people, then in a couple years later along the way the number can be exponential."

"Veterinary school is difficult under any circumstances. No one would tell you it is easy," said Bonnie Rush, interim dean of K-State's College of Veterinary Medicine. 

She applauded these students for their courage in becoming a veterinarian in a different culture using a secondary language. 

"The program has been a cornerstone for this college's commitment and interest in making a difference to the world by having a global program," Rush said. "We are proud of the students that we send back to China to improve animal and human health in their country."

Peggy Schmidt, associate dean for academic programs and student affairs at K-State's College of Veterinary Medicine, shared how excited she is to see members of the program grow as educators.

"You will be taking a role in academia, which will be a very special role as a veterinarian," Schmidt said. "We are used to taking care of our patients and clients, but you will also have the opportunity to take care of the future generations of veterinarians. The veterinarian students will come to your door and place their little veterinary heart in your hand and say, 'Nurture me, take care of me,' and that's also a pretty special role."

The program is sponsored by Kansas State University, the China Scholarship Council, Zoetis/International Veterinary Collaboration for China, the Chinese Veterinary Medical Association and Banfield Pet Hospital. Since its establishment in 2012, the U.S.-China Center for Animal Health has guided the program through partnerships with the governments, universities and animal health industry in the U.S. and China.

"I think the stories we heard today from the students, and those who have even graduated, yet prove that they are deserving to be here," said Alex Ramirez, interim assistant dean of academic and student affairs at the Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine. "We take pride in those students that come into our institution, but really, as a veterinary professional, we are proud of all – not only those who are in our school but also those who will be representing our profession in the future."

"The College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Minnesota continues to be a strong supporter of this program and we're grateful of all the supporters that help, including the Chinese Scholarship Council, that make this possible," said Trevor Ames, dean of Minnesota's veterinary college.

The College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Georgia is a new partner to the program and will be welcoming Xinyi Xu in the fall. Scott Brown, associate dean of academic affairs, served as Georgia's representative at this year's homecoming.

"We are honored and excited to be a part of this program for the first time," Brown said. "It is a program that expands our horizons — allowing us access to exceptional international students who want to come to the U.S. to further their career and gain important perspective on how the veterinary profession can impact animal and public health in both countries. We look forward to welcoming our first student in August and being part of her journey."

The first program graduates, Yi Ding and Yaoqin Shen, now have a year of teaching as associate professors at Huazhong Agricultural University in China after earning a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Minnesota and K-State, respectively, in 2017. They have used the U.S. clinical rotation model to launch the Excellent Clinician Training Program at Huazhong Agricultural University.

"We divide students into groups and let them do rotations in each department," Ding said. "Our college thinks the program is important. Before, we would just get experience in research labs — so we wouldn't get that much practical experience. Each month we give lectures on topics that we learned here in the U.S. Not only do the students in the training program attend, but also other students who are interested in clinical veterinary medicine."

A leadership seminar was incorporated into the event, as one of the program's missions is to train future leaders in the veterinary education and the profession in China.Daniel Aja, senior vice president and chief medical at Banfield and Ames offered advice and words of wisdom about what they have learned along the way.

As the ceremony concluded, Jishu Shi, director of the U.S.-China Center for Animal Health expressed his gratitude for those who traveled a long way to attend the homecoming event, as well as the students.

"From your presentations, I can say, just like every speaker here, we are all very proud of you," Sh saidi. "You're making the difference in the class room. The alumni have already set up partnership with universities in the U.S. and China. That's really what the program is supposed to be about, so thank you for the hard work you do."