March Goes On at VMCVM
VMCVM hosted a hybrid Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) event on March 25, 2022.
The event consisted of a Panel Discussion - "March Goes On at VMCVM: A look at diversity across the decades; where we've been and where we're headed" as well as a Social and Diversity Mentorship Event, where minority alumni and students discussed their personal and professional experiences, as well as future goals and opportunities.
Transcript available upon request.
In November of 2020, VMCVM held a virtual DEI event entitled “A Walk In Our Shoes: Navigating Veterinary Medicine as a Minority.” This event hosted an alumni panel with student moderators who navigated a discussion about being a minority in veterinary medicine. After that event took place, the future goal was to continue the opportunity through an annual event and expand through a diversity mentorship component.
In honor of Virginia Tech’s Sesquicentennial, VMCVM is celebrating this milestone through a new DEI installment – “March Goes On at VMCVM”. This event will also feature an alumni panel with diverse/minority alumni representation from each of the college’s decades with a "look back on where we've been and where we're headed" theme. In the afternoon, a social and diversity mentorship event will proceed as the kickoff for our Diversity Mentorship Program - an extension of the existing Mentor Program with a focus on diverse/minority alumni, practitioners, and students.
We encourage all alumni, students, and practitioners to join us (virtually or in-person) for the panel discussion at noon. Royal Canin will provide a catered lunch for in-person attendance!
The social and diversity mentorship event in the afternoon is open for anyone to attend, but is a focus for diverse/minority students, alumni, and practitioners who want to be a part of the program. Students do not need to attend for the entire afternoon event; it is intended for you to be able to join casually and mingle as you have time.
If you are a diverse/minority alumni or practitioner who is interested in becoming a mentor for this program, please email Cassie Wagner at firstname.lastname@example.org. We hope you can join this event in-person, but if you are unable, we would like to have you set up as a mentor in our system and for outreach to attend future diversity events.
Thank you for being part of this important event and program!
Margie Lee (BS '82, DVM '86)
Dr. Margie Lee is head of the department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology. She is formerly the coordinator of Graduate Affairs for the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine and graduate coordinator for the Masters of Avian Medicine program.
Her research focuses on epidemiology of meat and poultry-borne food safety pathogens, microbial pathogenesis, and ecology of poultry intestinal microbiome resulting in 80 peer-reviewed publications as well as chapters in the Merck Veterinary Manual and the Laboratory Manual for Isolation, Identification and Characterization of Avian Pathogens. In addition to research, she has taught microbiology to veterinary students, graduate and undergraduate students and veterinary residents.
Gary Hurlock (DVM '96)
In 1986, William “Gary” Hurlock migrated from Jamaica with his other siblings to join his parents in New York, USA. He immediately joined the U.S Army where he served for two years until 1988. Upon being honorable discharged, he joined the Maryland Army National Guard while attending college.
Gary attended the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (along with his four siblings) where he graduated in 1992 with a bachelor’s degree in Animal Science, honors. He continued his education at Virginia- Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine where he graduated in 1996 with his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree. That was immediately followed by an internship in Poultry Medicine from North Carolina State University- College of Veterinary Medicine.
Gary has been working in the food industry for the past 25 years and currently holds the position as Vice President for Food Safety & Regulatory Affairs at Crider Foods.
Gary is married to Nancy Hurlock for over 23 years and is the proud father of four children: Gary, Amanda, Adrianna, and Andrew.
His hobbies are farming, golfing, fishing and watching football.
Tosha Starke (DVM '04)
Dr. Starke grew up on a grain and livestock farm in Brunswick County, Virginia. Pursuing her passions for caring for and healing animals, she earned a DVM from VMCVM in 2004. Since then, she has practiced in northern Virginia.
In a varied and well-rounded career, Dr. Starke has practiced as a chief of staff in two hospitals, provided medical care to shelter pets, and worked as an associate veterinarian. Her interests include dentistry and surgery, and she loves the interactions and relationships she builds with patients and clients.
Dr. Starke, who lives in northern Virginia with her husband, her children Christopher and Gabby, and their three dogs, Dozer, Bruce, and Kettle, believes that starting All Four PAWS Veterinary Relief was a wonderful way for her to balance her passions as a mom and as a veterinarian and to spend more time with her family.
Melani French (DVM '14)
Dr. Melani French, who has wanted to be a veterinarian since she was 4 years old, has worked in the veterinary field since 2005 as a veterinary assistant, a receptionist, and now a doctor.
After completing a B.S. in biological sciences in 2010 at Hampton University, she graduated in the top 10 of her DVM class at VMCVM in 2014.
A native of Manassas, Virginia, Dr. French returned to her hometown to serve as a small animal general practitioner, a relief surgeon, and a lead veterinarian/medical director before deciding to pursue a better work-life balance.
Currently a relief veterinarian with the All Four Paws Veterinary Relief team, she has a range of professional interests, including surgery, dentistry, internal medicine, and advanced diagnostic imaging, such as radiology and ultrasound.
Dr. French is not only passionate about supporting other minority veterinarians and veterinary students, but she also mentors and coaches youth groups within her community. In her free time, Dr. French enjoys spending time with her husband, family, friends and her two shih tzu-mixes, Tanner and Jake. She will quickly admit that she has a soft spot for WFDs—white fluffy dogs!
Hannah Lau (BS '13, DVM '17)
Hannah Lau is a remote veterinarian living in Blacksburg, Virginia and working with Adobe Animal Hospital in Los Altos, California. She currently works in telemedicine and virtual care full time. Her professional passion is helping pets and pet parents receive veterinary care regardless of ability, transportation access, or location through telemedicine, as well as helping veterinary hospitals create strong virtual care programs. She is a 2013 graduate of Virginia Tech and a 2017 graduate of VMCVM. In her spare time she enjoys high-volume high-quality spay and neuter, reading fiction, and hanging out with her husband and four cats.
Robert Lerkaram (DVM '21)
Robert Lerkaram grew up in Baltimore, Maryland. After serving 11 years in the US Army, he developed interest in veterinary medicine from volunteering at the MDSPCA and BARCS. As an avid Star Wars fan, he focused solely on discussing space guns and lightsabers during his interviews at veterinary colleges.
Dr. Lerkaram graduated with the Class of 2021 from VMCVM but took time off post graduation due to single parenting since second year. Currently, he performs a combination of relief work and high volume spay/neuter in the Blacksburg area.
Susana Diaz (DVM/MPH Candidate '23)
Hi! I'm Susana Diaz and am currently a 3rd year DVM/MPH student at VMCVM. I am the proud daughter of two El Salvadoran parents and take pride in my heritage. I currently serve as the Co-Founder/President of the Latinx Veterinary Medical Association Student Chapter at VMCVM and served nationally as chair of SAVMA's Integrative Communications and Diversity Committee.
After attending Cornell University for my undergraduate degree, I worked as a laboratory animal technician in government facilities for two years. This experience shaped and led to my choice in becoming a public corporate tracker with a focus on laboratory animal medicine. On the little free time I do have, I love to practice agility training with my beagle Nala and binge watch tv/cuddle with my other beagle Simba.
Chris Hollingsworth (DVM Candidate '23)
Chris Hollingsworth, a third-year veterinary student, is originally from Guyana, South America, but grew up in Silver Spring, Maryland. He hopes to pursue a residency in small animal surgery, and has a strong desire to serve and educate his community as a small animal veterinarian.
Ana Ryan (DVM Candidate '24)
Ana Ryan is a 2nd year veterinary student at VMCVM from Woodbridge, VA. Prior to her matriculation to VMCVM she attended Tuskegee University where she obtained a Bachelors of Science in Animal, Poultry, and Veterinary Sciences. At VMCVM, Ana serves on the SAVMA Executive Board as Can I Vet Yet? Sr. Coordinator and is the Latin American Veterinary Association Student Chapter Vice President at VMCVM. She is also a member of the Christian Veterinary Fellowship and Food Animal Practitioner Club.
Ana is committed to promoting a multi-cultural and diverse environment. One of her major career goals is to help advance the veterinary profession not only through medicine, but through advocacy and leadership. Ana believes it is a true blessing to be a part of the VMCVM community and is grateful to have the opportunity to serve. Ana was always told to leave a place in a better condition than it was when she arrived, and she plans to do that for the veterinary profession throughout her career as a student and a professional once she graduates.
Takia Williams (DVM Candidate '25)
Takia "Kia" Williams is a first-year veterinary medical student at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, where she is pursuing her doctoral degree in Veterinary Medicine and serves as the Course Representative for the Class of 2025, Admission Student Ambassador, and President of the Theriogenology Club.
Prior to attending VMCVM, Kia completed her Masters of Science in Microbiology and Immunology from Virginia Commonwealth University and her Bachelors of Science in Biology from Alderson Broaddus University. She will be tracking Mixed Animal and specializing in Theriogenology.