Open House Invites Public to Challenge Stereotypes

Sep 11, 2020 / General News

[open house 2020 graphic]

Virtual Event Opens Sunday, Oct. 4

The COVID pandemic and the antiracism movement have made 2020 a year of change. Students at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine embraced this opportunity to reimagine their annual Open House event.

In response to public health restrictions on large in-person gatherings, students are moving the fun, learning, and, of course, animals to an interactive website. They are putting the focus on dispelling myths—about animals and about veterinary careers.

Ask a Vet Student

Got questions about what it’s like to be a student at the College of Veterinary Medicine? Here’s your chance to find out! Submit your questions in advance through the Facebook event page.

Just about every booth that visitors would typically see at our live event will be represented in the virtual Open House.

Julie Klein, Class of 2022

“We’re super excited about the chance to reach even more people this year by hosting our information about animals on the internet,” said Julie Klein, a third-year Illinois veterinary student on the Open House leadership committee. “Just about every booth that visitors would typically see at our live event will be represented in the virtual Open House.”

This year will be Klein’s third year as an Open House leader, but it’s the first year ever that the event has been delivered online. The new format means open house offerings will be available for viewing for three months—October 4 through December 31—rather than for just six hours, at the traditional in-person event.

RSVP for Open House on Facebook!

The Illinois student chapter of VOICE (Veterinarians as One Inclusive Community for Empowerment) has taken a lead role in developing content for the Open House website.

“The veterinary profession as a whole struggles with issues of diversity,” explained Michael Greener, a third-year veterinary student who is organizing the Open House videos and presentations from the VOICE chapter.

“We really wanted to use this opportunity to address some of the stereotypes surrounding veterinary practice that may be barriers to attracting underrepresented groups to our field,” he said. “For example, the stereotypical veterinarian only vaccinates puppies and kittens. The truth is that people with a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree go into public health, biomedical research, agricultural industry, military, specialty medicine, and many other careers.”

The website will feature videos that explore these career options as well as first-person stories and advice from veterinarians from under-represented backgrounds. There will also be plenty of animal-focused videos and presentations that bust myths about animals from bats to cats and beyond.

A Facebook Live session at 2 pm CDT on October 4 will give viewers a chance to hear from current Illinois students about their veterinary college experiences. Submit questions in advance through the Facebook event page.

Other features of the online Open House include:

  • Demonstrations of a neurology examination of a dog, how to get a saliva sample from pigs, and how to safely approach a dog that doesn’t know you
  • Interviews with students who have volunteered their veterinary services in under-served parts of the world
  • Behind-the-scenes video featuring the college’s Wildlife Medical Clinic
  • Downloadable coloring sheets, games, and other activities.

RSVP for the college’s virtual Open House through the event page on Facebook for frequent updates and sneak previews!