The University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine’s chapter of Veterinarians as One Inclusive Community for Empowerment (VOICE) was awarded the organization’s National Programming Excellence Award for the 2022-23 school year. The award recognizes a chapter that exemplifies VOICE’s purpose through event and program creation. It was presented at the VOICE National Conference at Kansas State University in February.
Founded in 2001, VOICE is a national student-run organization aiming to increase awareness, sensitivity and respect for differences among all individuals and communities in the field of veterinary medicine. There are nearly 20 VOICE chapters throughout the nation’s veterinary medical colleges.
The organization celebrates diversity within the profession, encourages campus environments that embrace diversity and promotes the success of all students. They emphasize the importance of cross-cultural awareness in veterinary medicine to meet the needs of a diversifying clientele. In addition, to ensure a more diverse future for the veterinary medical profession, VOICE chapters provide leadership and mentorship to youth, particularly those from underrepresented backgrounds, who are interested in careers as veterinarians.
“All of our VOICE officers are committed advocates for diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) at our school,” says Allie Hoerth, a third-year veterinary medical student, chapter president and VOICE’s national communications director. “As an advocate and ally, I want to create an environment that is supportive and educational for learning with my peers and the SVM community.”
Throughout the school year, the UW-Madison VOICE chapter hosts events, often in collaboration with other UW School of Veterinary Medicine or campus organizations, to explore topics ranging from equity in the health sciences to mental health, disabilities, antisemitism, and more. They hosted socials for the SVM community, a Let’s Talk series featuring open discussions on various DEI topics, helped the school’s student DEI Advocacy Board host DEI family potluck nights, and organized many other activities.
“We believe that social events are a great way to welcome our new students and show that everyone is welcome at our school,” Hoerth says.
“All of our VOICE officers are committed advocates for diversity, equity and inclusion at our school. As an advocate and ally, I want to create an environment that is supportive and educational for learning with my peers and the SVM community.”
The UW VOICE chapter collaborates closely with the school’s Pride SVMC club, a partner organization that serves as the student-run arm of the national Pride Veterinary Medical Community. The VOICE chapter assists Pride SVMC’s president and vice president, DVM students Michelle Milanov and Jack Lapierre, respectfully, with the club’s two major annual events, a T-shirt sale for National Coming Out Day and an annual drag show. Both events benefit GSAFE, a local nonprofit organization that supports LGBTQIA+ youth in Wisconsin.
UW VOICE Chapter Leadership (2022-23)
Interprofessional Diversity Initiative Chair
Social Media Chair