Black History Month
In honor of Black History Month, the AAEP honors the achievements of African-American veterinarians in the equine industry while also sharing resources to expand awareness within the veterinary community about diversity, equity and inclusion.
AAEP Member Spotlight
Amie Casey, DVM
Regulatory Veterinarian, Louisiana State Racing Commission
Dr. Casey may have genetics to credit for her love of horses, but her 20 years as an equine veterinarian have established her as a fierce advocate and respected caregiver for racehorses in Louisiana.
The granddaughter of Hall of Fame jockey and three-time Kentucky Derby winner Jimmy “The Wink” Winkfield, Dr. Casey’s first career was as a classically trained violinist with the Sacramento Symphony. She is a graduate of @osuvetcollege and works as a regulatory veterinarian for the Louisiana State Racing Commission.
Dr. Casey says that being both African American and female has had its challenges, with it seeming that there was always something she had to prove in order to stay in the mix and compete. “The most rewarding thing about being a non-traditional racetrack veterinarian is that once people afforded me the opportunity to help their horses and try different ways to bring out the best in their athletes, they got to know me and accept me for who I was, and in time came acceptance.”
Aja Harvey, DVM, DACVIM
B.W. Furlong & Associates
Board-certified internist Dr. Aja Harvey never wavered from her path of becoming a horse doctor. Knowing since the age of six that veterinary medicine was her career dream, she now provides clinical care as an internal medicine specialist with B.W. Furlong & Associates in her home state of New Jersey.
A 2014 graduate of the Tuskegee University College of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Harvey’s drive to succeed was greatly influenced by her grandmother, the late Dr. Lillian Holland Harvey, Dean Emeritus of Tuskegee’s School of Nursing, and a member of President John F. Kennedy’s Commission on the Status of Women in the United States.
“Knowing what she was able to accomplish during a time when there were substantial legal and social obstacles that stood in the way of progress for African Americans, especially women in the fields of both academia and medicine, made me determined to practice in equine medicine and, hopefully, excel in a field where I am very much a rarity,” says Dr. Harvey.
A member of the AAEP’s new Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Task Force, Dr. Harvey frequently speaks to students of color about careers in the profession. “Many African American students are interested in attending veterinary school, but most probably will not pursue this goal. I suspect that this shortcoming is not a result of their lack of talent or hard work. Rather, it has more to do with the fact that these students have never seen someone like themselves in the field, or believe that because there are so few clinicians, it will be difficult for them to achieve this goal. Equine medicine can and should be a better reflection of the society in which we live and the clients whom we serve.”
Dr. Ty Blanche
Comstock Equine Hospital
Calling herself a late bloomer in the horse world, Dr. Ty Blanche had never touched a horse before attending Fresno State for undergrad. She became heavily involved with the university’s agriculture program, and the rest, as the saying goes, is history.
Dr. Blanche is a 2018 graduate of the Western University College of Veterinary Medicine in Pomona, Calif., where she was an active student leader. She served as secretary of the school’s AAEP student chapter as well as co-president of Students of Color & Allies Outreach, Retention & Education (SCORE), a club committed to increasing diversity within veterinary medicine.
Now an associate veterinarian at Comstock Equine Hospital in Reno, Nev., Dr. Blanche’s clinical passions include preventive medicine, wound management and dentistry, in addition to providing veterinary care to small ruminants.
“One of the most challenging and simultaneously rewarding aspects of being a Black female veterinarian is finding a way to acknowledge and overcome the initial surprise that many clients have when I step out of the truck,” she said. “Being able to develop a relationship of trust with both the clients and their animals is extremely gratifying.”
Diversity and Inclusion Resources for Veterinary Professionals
The AVMA and the AAVMC offer several free webinars and podcasts which discuss diversity and equitable treatment in the profession. Visit the AVMA Diversity and Inclusion webpage to access their library.
Featured Podcast: AAVMC DiversityMatters
Episode - National Association for Black Veterinarians
Leaders from the National Association for Black Veterinarians talk about their role in promoting diversity and inclusion in the veterinary profession. Drs. Renita Marshall and Raphael Malbrue discuss how the organization came to be, the goals, future organizational activities and overall efforts to improve representation within the profession.
By Dr. Ty Blanche