Purdue veterinarian receives award for mentoring children
What started as a dream of becoming a veterinarian led Dr. Sandra San Miguel to pursue a passion for broadening diversity in the veterinary medical profession. And now she’s being nationally recognized for her work.
San Miguel received an Outstanding Public Service award on June 18 at Multiplying Good's national Jefferson Awards Gala for the creation of an after-school program named This is How We "Role." The program shows grade school children what veterinary medicine is like to inspire their interest in sciences.
"When I was kid and messed up, there was always someone — a teacher, guidance counselor, coach, physical therapist -- who showed me how to be a better human being instead of giving up on me," said San Miguel, associate dean for engagement in Purdue’s College of Veterinary Medicine. "We created This is How We 'Role' to serve as a way to continue this type of mentoring."
The program was developed in conjunction with a longstanding relationship between Purdue’s College of Veterinary Medicine and the Hanna Community Center in Lafayette, Indiana.
“We started out by helping Hanna kids with their homework,” San Miguel said.
Then we started giving some veterinary lessons. The kids would get excited about the lessons and not want to go home. We didn’t want to go home either because it was so much fun. The idea was to show the kids that they could be anything they wanted.”
This is How We "Role" was launched in 2015 with support from the Science Education Partnership Award program of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, a part of the National Institutes of Health. The funding allowed the Purdue team to develop a science and math curriculum for kids that would be delivered by veterinary student role models.
The long-term goal of This is How We "Role" is to diversify the veterinarian-scientist workforce. The program has reached hundreds of children and will continue to reach more. Already, This is How We "Role" has expanded across the country as 19 other U.S. veterinary schools and colleges have adopted the program with the support of the SEPA grant.
The program's effects continue to motivate San Miguel.
“I see the impact on the kids when they solve problems and talk about things that they learned during vet lessons, months after the lessons happened,” San Miguel said. "I see the impact on our veterinary students when they are able to explain complex health concepts in ways the kids can understand. Also, I see our impact in all the smiles."