General News

Research Mentors Impact Student Destined for Life-Long Learning

“As a whole, U of I impacted my entire career path. The experiences I was exposed to and the mentors I have been privileged to get to know allowed me better clarity and more curiosity in my future in veterinary medicine,” says Brit’nee Letori Haskins, a veterinary student graduating in May.

Her passion lies in the intersection between animal and human health and how it affects the world as a whole. She hopes veterinarians will continue to become more representative of the greater population. Haskins believes that increasing visibility of veterinarians is beneficial to veterinary medicine, the public, and the animals served.

“Veterinary school has been an emotional rollercoaster. However, I have smiled through it all. I keep a smile on my face because sometimes it seems like that’s the thing that keeps me grounded and grateful,” says Haskins.

Haskins attended Davidson College in North Carolina for her bachelor’s degree in anthropology, and then received her pre-baccalaureate certificate in pre-veterinary studies at the Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond.

At Illinois, she has combined her veterinary studies with several research opportunities. In the summer of 2015, she participated in the Summer Research Training Program for veterinary students, where she researched mosquitoes in an entomology lab with Dr. Brian Allan.

After graduation, fourth-year student Brit’nee Haskins will return to the Washington, D.C., area where she grew up. At top: Brit’nee looks at a slide of a biologically stained cross-section of a young female rat ovary, as part of her research with Dr. Jodi Flaws’s lab.

During that summer experience, Haskins met Dr. Jodi Flaws, professor at the veterinary college, whose research focuses on the female reproductive system. Haskins expressed a strong interest in Dr. Flaws’ research, so Dr. Flaws hired her as a research assistant over the subsequent years.

“Brit’nee has been an integral member of the research team in my laboratory and she has contributed greatly to several projects. I am confident that she has an outstanding career in veterinary medicine ahead of her. She is extremely bright, hardworking, and passionate about veterinary medicine,” says Dr. Flaws.

By participating in research programs, Haskins says she has learned not only how to be “a better thinker and team player, but also how to ask questions to progress learning.”

Throughout veterinary school, Haskins has been involved with the Public Health Association, where she served as the Class of 2018 representative. She was in charge of putting together events such as the Farm to Fork trip, where students get the opportunity to see the operation of meat processing from the slaughterhouse to the restaurant.

Additionally, she has been involved with the Illinois Student Chapter of the Association of Shelter Veterinarians, Pathology Club, Wildlife Medical Clinic, and the Black Graduate Student Association.

After graduation, Haskins will be starting her career as a small animal rotating intern at the Friendship Hospital for Animals in Washington, D.C., near where she grew up.

“I am excited to continue my growth as a lifelong student of veterinary medicine, and as a new doctor close to home and family. It’s the best part of all,” says Haskins.

For other graduates, Haskins says, “Congratulations to all U of I Class of 2018 graduates! We’ve worked so hard and deserve to be proud of our journey and perseverance.

“The people that make up this community are the core agents of transformation at U of I. Each one of us has stories, life experiences, and unique characteristics that are so engrained into our DNA and being that when we meet each other and spend time together, there is an exchange of information and a shared experience that forces one to change, grow, develop, and transform into a better human being.”


—Da Yeon Eom