Lia Spencer, a member of the DVM Class of 2024 at the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine, is the first recipient of the newly established Pan Asian Veterinary Medicine Scholarship award. Tim Yoshino, a professor emeritus with the school, and his wife Laureen Yoshino, a special education teacher and elementary school librarian in the Madison School District, established the scholarship in 2022 to help increase and support diversity in the veterinary medical profession.
“Through our experiences as educators, we recognize that members of the Pan-Asian community have limited representation, as students and professionals, within the local school district and the UW School of Veterinary Medicine,” Tim says. “We felt that establishing this scholarship would help to encourage more Pan-Asian participation in the veterinary medical profession, providing important role models for others to follow.”
The $1,000 scholarhip recognizes one recipient annually who represents “strong interest and commitment to veterinary medicine,” he says. Preference is given to applicants who are members of the Association of Asian Veterinary Medical Professionals (AAVMP) of UW–Madison and demonstrate commitment to or interest in one or more Pan-Asian
countries and cultures.
“Visibility is so important in any profession, but especially in this profession. I am excited for future recipients of this scholarship who are doing significant work in making this profession more diverse.”
Spencer exemplifies these standards. She is the senior delegate of the UW–Madison chapter of the Student American Veterinary Medical Association (SAVMA), vice president of the university’s AAVMP chapter, and the veterinary medicine program representative for UW–Madison’s Student Interprofessional Health Council. She also holds a certification in diversity and inclusion in veterinary medicine from Purdue University and previously served as chair of the Equity in Veterinary Medicine Grant for SAVMA’s Integrative Communications and Diversity Committee.
Spencer’s journey into veterinary medicine was not a linear one. She explored many options in undergraduate education at Carleton College, but her curiosity, compassion for others, and biology knowledge led her to the veterinary medical field.
After graduation, Spencer intends to go into small animal practice with a community medicine focus. “Most of my experience has been in nonprofits, where I have witnessed the need to maintain the human-pet bond by increasing access to veterinary care,” she says.
She is incredibly thankful for this scholarship in more ways than one.
“As a non-resident student, this scholarship will help me cover much-needed expenses towards my veterinary medicine education,” she says.
Even more so, Spencer is thankful for what this scholarship represents and the Yoshinos’ intended purpose for establishing it.
“I would like to thank Tim and Laureen Yoshino for creating this scholarship and recognizing the need to highlight students who are raising awareness of the Pan-Asian community,” she notes. “As the daughter of a Taiwanese mother, I entered veterinary school without having met someone who looked like my mother in the veterinary medicine field.”
“Visibility is so important in any profession, but especially in this profession,” she adds. “I am excited for future recipients of this scholarship who are doing significant work in making this profession more diverse.”