Pre-Vet student graduates from Purdue’s VetUp!

Louisiana Tech senior Christan Robicheaux, currently pursuing a double major in animal science and finance, recently graduated from Purdue’s VetUp! program, a federally funded initiative to expand access to the veterinary profession for talented individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds and to address the need for more veterinarians serving rural areas.

“Every day was like the day of a veterinary student,” said Robicheaux, who shares a home in Cecilia with her parents and both Grace, a 3-year-old pit-lab mix, and 9-year-old Toon, a miniature pinscher.

“We had lectures and exams as well as presentations and activities that would prepare us for vet school interviews, financial matters, mental health, and just about anything else,” she said. “I even had the opportunity to receive mental health first-aid training and become certified, and I earned certificates in diversity and inclusion.”

Without the pandemic, the program would have been in-person on Purdue’s College of Veterinary Medicine campus for six weeks. Instead, Robicheaux completed four weeks of the program via Zoom and worked at a hands-on clinical site for two weeks.

Dr. Becky McConnico, a professor and veterinarian in Tech’s Agricultural Sciences and Forestry Department in the University’s College of Natural and Applied Sciences, told Robicheaux about the opportunity in Winter 2019. But after she’d applied and been accepted, the 2020 VetUp! program was cancelled due to COVID-19.

Robicheaux was re-selected this year and was able to take advantage of the program, which is basically a national academy for veterinary medicine, an opportunity made for minorities and underrepresented groups of people and dedicated to diversity and inclusion in the veterinary field.

Here’s part of what she told the VetUp! selection committee about a certain “superpower” she wanted to work to acquire:

“To be a veterinarian is to be a gateway communicator for animals,” she said. “They are often misunderstood and deserve to be recognized. I believe that every creature on this earth has feelings and a soul. I want to fight and vouch for animals to let them know that they matter and are loved and seen.

“However, for me, love isn’t enough; I have to go further. Veterinarians have the skills and knowledge to take that extra step and deliver the best possible chance for a better life to every animal that they treat. To diagnose and treat an animal that cannot communicate effectively is a superpower I’d like to acquire. I can accomplish this by dedicating my career and studies to them. I am made for this. To be a veterinarian is to be me.”

Robicheaux expected to graduate this coming May, but that might be pushed back to next fall or even Winter 2023 since she recently decided to add finance as a double major with her animal science degree.

“I want to be able to open my own hospital or clinic one day to help as many animals as possible,” she said. “The finance degree will make that a little easier for me.”

Her plan is to complete her vet school prerequisites this school year and apply to vet school.


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