Hannah Adams is embarking on a path less traveled. She stands as a beacon of aspiration for many Black students as she enters the world of veterinary medicine.
A recent graduate of Prairie View A&M University, Adams is setting her sights on achieving her lifelong dream of becoming a veterinarian by enrolling in graduate school at another HBCU, the historic Tuskegee University.
Veterinary medicine is a field both esteemed and financially rewarding, yet, these opportunities have often felt elusive for individuals of color seeking entry into the industry.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 3% of all veterinarians identified as Black. However, this did not deter Adams from pursuing her passion.
Tuskegee is rooted in a history of successfully preparing students to play “effective professional and leadership roles in society.” That was a major factor in Adams’ decision to attend the institution.
“I have so much pride as a young Black woman,” she said. “It only makes sense to continue my education at an HBCU.”
She started her first semester at Tuskegee University and hopes to shatter the barriers for Black youth in the field of veterinary medicine and “pave the way for future generations.”
The Defender spoke with Adams about her academic journey.
Defender: Can you share your personal journey that led you to pursue a career in veterinary medicine?
Hannah Adams: I knew I always wanted to be a veterinarian. I love animals. I never knew this could be a career until toward the end of high school, because they don’t really talk about agriculture in high school. When people think of agriculture, they probably think of plants and farming. You can get a degree in agriculture under the animal side and use it to be able to go to vet school, which is what I did. I grew up watching vet shows like “The Vet Life” and “Critters Keepers.” Those shows had Black representation. I saw that and I wanted to do it. That’s when I started reaching out to other people who knew about it, doing my research before deciding that I wanted to get a doctorate in veterinary medicine.
Defender: Tuskegee University is renowned for producing African American veterinarians. How do you feel about being a part of this legacy and what impact do you hope to make in the field?
Adams: I went to PVAMU for my undergraduate and that is an HBCU. I wanted to continue the tradition of going to an HBCU. I felt like I would get more representation here and it would be more of a community than if I would go to a predominantly white institution. I wanted to be with other successful Black people who wanted to be a veterinarian. These HBCU campuses are more like family. Everybody is nice. I haven’t met a mean person. I feel comfortable in these spaces.
Defender: What do you envision your career to look like?
Adams: I don’t want to be put into a certain box. I want to be a veterinarian, but I also want to do other things. Help animals in rehabilitation. I want to maybe take a grooming class and learn how to do animal grooming. I want to have different side hustles because I know with my degree, I can do a lot of things to earn money.
Defender: Veterinary medicine is often perceived as a predominantly caucasian field. In your opinion, what steps can be taken to create a more diverse and equitable landscape within the industry?
Adams: I feel like if I had more knowledge about career opportunities like this in high school, I would have started sooner. I went to Channelview High School, and they had an agricultural program but there wasn’t enough done to provide career options for students who might be interested in taking their interest a little further.
I feel like Black professionals in this space should consider going into the schools and expanding their reach to high school with majority Black and Brown youth. Even at career fairs, that would be cool to see more people who look like me talk about being a veterinarian like people do for other STEM careers.