In a departure from our regular student profiles this month we are featuring a student who will become a veterinary student this fall.

Katie Rodarte

Transitioning from Los Alamos National Laboratory to the DVM Class of 2027

Welcome, Katie, to the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine. Where is home?

I am from Santa Fe, New Mexico, born and raised, and I am excited to join Virginia-Maryland College in August.

So you said that you signed up right away as soon as you got the offer?

Yes. I have a friend that graduated from here last year. Before he graduated, he invited me to come to check out the school. Prior to that visit, I had spent little time on this side of the country. When I came to learn more about the school, I immediately fell in love with the program. Mainly because I want to go into public and corporate veterinary medicine, and work for the USDA. I liked that Virginia-Maryland offers that track option.

What are you currently doing at the Los Alamos Lab?

I work in biosecurity and public health, so much of my current role involves epidemiological disease monitoring. We collaborate with veterinarians from around the world to detect any types of unusual pathogens like avian influenza.

What was your undergrad in?

I have a very nontraditional background. I initially started as an animal science major right after high school but then due to life circumstances I ended up putting college on hold for many years. I went back to college when I was 27. At the time, I worked as an account manager in Denver and had the opportunity to receive a business degree with a double major in project management. Right before the pandemic hit, I moved back to Santa Fe and was offered a position at Los Alamos National Laboratory. With support from the lab, I earned a master's degree in global and national security and became fascinated with the biosecurity side of the program. I received training through Los Alamos to get into that area and later began a second master’s degree in Veterinary Public Health.

What was your first veterinary experience?

In high school, I worked as a kennel assistant for Smith Veterinary Hospital in Santa Fe. They are known for working on the original Smokey the Bear!

So have you always wanted to be a veterinarian?

I have. I know most people say that but I am most proud that I stayed passionate about my goal despite the many life hurdles along the way. I am not afraid to let my age get in the way. I feel like all the life experiences over the years helped prepare me in some way or another.

My hidden talent...

Thanks to my amazing fourth-grade teacher, Ms. Rodriguez, I am a ninja in the field of origami, and I am also a second-degree black belt in Shotokan karate.

A person who has inspired me...

I admire Katherine Johnson's determination to overcome gender and racial hurdles to provide groundbreaking contributions to space exploration. Her female leadership in science is admirable.

The biggest misconception about being a veterinarian/public health student…

That veterinarians are regarded as lesser doctors than human doctors.

If I had a superpower, it would be...

Teleportation, so I can visit any part of the world or see my family and friends anytime.

My no-fail, go-for-it motivational song...

"Ain’t No Mountain High Enough" by Marvin Gaye

The course project/study you're most excited about..

I am most excited to begin my public/corporate track through Virginia-Maryland. My goal is to become an APHIS field veterinarian for the USDA. I like that the public/corporate track will give me a good foundation to respond to disease emergencies and control/eliminate zoonotic illnesses. 

What excites me the most about the future of my industry...

I am excited about One Health's global collaboration and the strides being made beyond zoonoses. Multiple sectors are working together to focus on the impact of the changing climate on ecosystems, livestock production, and antibiotic resistance. These biosurveillance efforts protect humans, animals, and the environment from new disease outbreaks and provide sustainable agriculture for future generations.

Favorite way to end the day...

An evening bike ride. In my hometown of Santa Fe, New Mexico, we have breathtaking sunsets that are bright pink and deep purple. I find it relaxing to be outside on a trail ride and watch the sun go down.

Top of my bucket list...

Skydive above Lake Wanaka in New Zealand.

How many pets do you have? Types?

I have a cat named Zayn the Mane and a bright orange leopard gecko named Gecklan Geckles Gecko, aka Gordon Gecko.


Andrew Mann
Director of Communications and Marketing