Veterinary Nursing Program Helps Student Gwen White ‘Go The Distance’ With New Career
Friday, December 10, 2021
An accomplished career is something that Gwen White, of Greenwood, Indiana, had already had when she chose to start a new chapter in her life by enrolling in the University’s Veterinary Nursing Distance Learning Program. Purdue. Her story provides a compelling illustration of how distance learning not only opened the door for her to explore the links between conservation and veterinary medicine, but also paved the way for the veterinary medical profession to gain a new member. with extensive professional experience, linked to a deep passion to make a difference in the lives of others.
Gwen enrolled in the Veterinary Nursing Distance Education (VNDL) program in 2016. As is customary for many distance education students, she added these studies to an already busy schedule. Today, she is completing the clinical portion of the program while working as an Assistant Professor of Biology at the O’Neill School for Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University and teaching the Diversity of Life at Ivy Tech Community College in Indianapolis.
Gwen grew up in small towns in Kansas and Colorado, where seeds of curiosity were planted in her young mind, motivating her to see the world whenever she could. In high school, she acted on that desire, spending two summers in Brazil and Mexico before taking a college semester to serve in a refugee camp in Honduras, where she discovered a deep desire to learn more about the cultures of the country. world.
Gwen received a master’s degree in marine ecology from the University of Maryland in 1988 before returning to Honduras as a US Peace Corps aquaculture volunteer. In this role, she worked with generous and inventive fishermen to discover new ways to improve their lives with the natural resources available. “I realized first-hand how important quality natural resources are to underserved communities,” said Gwen. These global interactions prompted her to pursue her studies in environmental sciences.
In 1990, Gwen began studying the impacts of urbanization on the ecology of streams as part of a doctoral program in conservation biology at the University of Minnesota. After graduating, Gwen began working as a biologist for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources’ Lakes and Rivers Enhancement Program and the Fisheries Section. She forged ties with Purdue University through the guidance of Dr. Anne Spacie, now Professor Emeritus of Forestry and Natural Resources, while working on fish communities in Indianapolis and teaching in the Department of Forestry and Resources. natural products from Purdue.
After coordinating the state’s invasive species management plan, she continued to work on public relations and stakeholder engagement as a communications specialist with DJ Case & Associates based in Mishawaka, Indiana. Subsequently, she took on the role of science coordinator for the US Fish and Wildlife Service, where she engaged with a team of state, federal and nonprofit leaders to find mutually beneficial solutions for agricultural production, wildlife conservation and water quality issues in the Mississippi River basin. In each of these positions, Gwen sought opportunities to develop programs, train teachers, mentor interns, and teach more than a dozen undergraduate and undergraduate courses at Purdue, IUPUI, Franklin College and Universities of Canada. ‘Indianapolis, Maryland and Minnesota.
“We are faced with rapidly evolving community and global issues that are very complex. Working at the intersection of veterinary medicine, wildlife conservation, public health, and economics will help us address these concerns. Academic programs like VNDL can provide the opportunity and context to engage more communities in the constructive dialogue and actions that can address these challenges.
Gwen began taking courses under the Purdue Veterinary Nursing distance education program to develop semi-retirement options such as caring for pets and exotic animals in low-income communities, helping with rehabilitation of wildlife and the integration of principles of wildlife diseases into its university curriculum. “Distance learning programs can offer a major opportunity to increase diversity, equity and inclusion in the veterinary field,” said Gwen. “Distance learning can help people who do not have a school nearby, who cannot leave their family or current job to pursue an education, or who wish to change or expand their knowledge base while working in a different area. I hope the Purdue program will continue to intentionally explore how these different demographics can be well represented in veterinary medicine.
The variety of scientific contributions Gwen has throughout her career has allowed her to flourish at work and as a teacher and mentor. Her stories and experiences provide invaluable insight into what a veterinary nursing degree can bring to students’ future careers. “As humans increasingly enter wilderness areas and increase the global trade in wildlife products, the opportunities for disease transmission between humans and wildlife multiply, to the detriment of both,” said Gwen. “Veterinary medicine can help us understand how to manage patterns of human development in such a way as to minimize potential negative impacts. Gwen also highlights how veterinary professionals can play a major role in disaster preparedness, adaptation and recovery of wildlife, pets and people in areas affected by climate change.
Gwen is extremely grateful for the knowledge she gained through the Veterinary Nursing Distance Learning Program. Along with the classes, she learned a lot by working as a veterinary assistant for two years at Angel Animal Hospital in Greenwood, focusing on surgery and general medicine care. She looks forward to completing the mentorship component of the program, while working in the emergency room and other departments at the VCA Advanced Veterinary Care Center in Fishers, Ind.
Reflecting on how veterinary nursing students can positively impact many communities around the world, Gwen said, “We face rapidly evolving community and global issues that are very complex. Working at the intersection of veterinary medicine, wildlife conservation, public health, and economics will help us address these concerns. Academic programs like VNDL can provide the opportunity and context to engage more communities in the constructive dialogue and actions that can address these challenges.
Stay tuned next month for a series of stories about students in the veterinary nursing program on campus, starting with a story on a student in the VN class of 2024 in the upcoming issue of Vet Gazette on Friday the 14th. January 2022.
Madeline Brod, PVM communication intern | [email protected]