student holding cats
UC Davis DVM student Ruth Goins, Class of 2023, was recently elcted president of the Veterinarians as One Inclusive Community for Empowerment.

UC Davis Veterinary Student Elected President of National Board Focused on Diversity

by Bridget Nagle

Ruth Goins, a second year DVM student at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, was recently elected president of the Veterinarians as One Inclusive Community for Empowerment (VOICE), a student-led organization promoting diversity. With diversity-building experience from a previous position, as well as her current presidency of a local VOICE chapter, Goins looks to continue that leadership as she transitions to the national level this fall.

“I’m honored to lead VOICE on a national level,” said Goins, whose national VOICE presidency will encompass the 2021-22 academic year. “It’s important for veterinary students to explore, celebrate, embrace, and educate themselves about all aspects of diversity in a veterinary medicine context.”

veterinary student with horse
Ruth Goins and classmates with horses during a clinical rotation at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.

Goins grew up in Minnesota where she and her family were one of few mixed race families in their neighborhood. She described living there as ‘feeling like the odd one out.’

“As a younger person, that made me start to think, ‘why aren’t there people who look like me in my school and my neighborhood?’, and what can I do about that?”

Since then, Goins has always strived for diversity in her communities. Before turning to veterinary medicine, she worked in the technology industry in San Francisco where she noticed similar issues.

“I would realize in meetings that I was the only woman,” Goins said. “Why was that?”

With the freedom of the start-up she worked at, Goins founded two support groups; one for non-binary and female employees, and one for employees of color.

The organizations caught the attention of the executive team and ultimately helped the company recruit a more diverse workforce.

“Potential employees saw it as a place where they would be welcome,” explained Goins. “It became a place where they were supported and belonged.”

two students at school event
Ruth Goins with classmate Scarlett Varney at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine's Class of 2023 White Coat Ceremony.

Goins hopes to reflect upon and share her experiences as a local president, striving to celebrate and encourage diversity among students. This includes a program to help students learn Spanish, an important skill for veterinarians in California and other areas with large Spanish-speaking populations. She surveyed students on their interest in potential classes, as well as to gauge students’ current proficiency. Goins understands the program’s value and is excited to start it in the fall.

Under her leadership, Goins hopes VOICE will grow to be one of the top interactive and engaged clubs, such as the Veterinary Business Management Association and the Student Veterinary Emergency Response Team.

“One of my long-term goals is for VOICE to maintain this momentum after I graduate,” said Goins. “I hope to see more students, both minorities and non-minorities taking leadership in VOICE. Together, we can make a difference.”

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