The First But Not The Last

The stories of Black individuals in veterinary medicine are ones that need telling
The stories of Black individuals in veterinary medicine are ones that need telling

About The First But Not The Last

The stories of Black individuals in veterinary medicine are ones that need telling. The remarkable sacrifices made by the ‘firsts’ in the field often remain untold. While barriers persist for Black veterinarians and aspiring veterinary professionals today, it is important that we tell the stories of those who came before, not only to honor their legacy but to guide the generations that follow their footsteps.

University of Pennsylvania

Est. 1884

Dr. Augustus Nathaniel Lushington

Dr. Augustus Nathaniel Lushington

About Dr. Lushington

Class of 1897

Hometown: Trinidad, West Indies

Born in Trinidad, Lushington coupled their curiosity with hard work. Starting off working in a classroom, he rose up the ranks to become a school principal. Searching for more adventure, Lushington briefly left for Venezuela where he worked for a British owned railroad as a clerk, timekeeper, and paymaster. He returned to Trinidad briefly after 3 years and left for Binghamton, New York in search for more opportunities. It was there he met his wife and the West Indian friends who supported his enrollment at Cornell University for pre-med and agriculture courses. Years later, Lushington became University of Pennsylvania’s first Black veterinary graduate. He then opened a veterinary practice in Philadelphia for 2 years before moving on South to open up a Large Animal practice in segregated Lynchburg, VA. To make ends meet, Lushington also worked as an agricultural statistics reporter for the US. Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Animal Industry, a meat inspector, and a probation officer on weekends. He eventually began treating domestic pets in his later years. Lushington never retired and worked until his passing at 69.

Dr. Augustus Nathaniel Lushington

Dr. Jane Hinton

About Dr. Hinton
Class of 1949

Hometown: Canton, MA

Daughter of the notable bacteriologist William Augustus Hinton, Hinton and her sisters were sent to study in many schools in Europe from the age of 6. Hinton returned to the US to finish high school then completed her bachelor’s degree at Simmons College in Boston, Massachusetts. After graduation, Hinton worked in her father’s laboratory at Harvard University’s Department of Bacteriology and Immunology where she helped develop the Mueller-Hinton agar culture medium while working as an assistant to John Howard Mueller. For 3 years, Hinton worked as a medical technician in Arizona for the U.S. War Department, after which she decided to attend veterinary school after the war. Hinton was the University of Pennsylvania’s first Black graduate, graduating at the same time as Alfeda Johnson (1949) from Tuskegee University. The two became the first 2 Black women to earn their veterinary doctorates in the US. Hinton then worked as a small animal veterinarian in Canton, Massachusetts for 6 years, then joined the Department of Agriculture as a federal inspector in Framingham, Massachusetts. During her time there, she was involved in research and response to outbreaks of disease in livestock until her retirement at 41.

The Ohio State University

Est. 1885

Dr. Augustus Nathaniel Lushington

Dr. James Hendrix Bias

About Dr. Bias
Class of 1910

Hometown: Vicksburg, MI

With intense racial and political unrest were still prevalent in the South, Bias travelled up to Ohio to pursue his dream of becoming a veterinarian. In 1910, Bias became the first Black man to graduate from The Ohio State College of Veterinary Medicine. Upon graduation, he returned to the South to pursue a veterinarian position at Tuskegee University. A year later in 1911 Bias formed the equivalent of a veterinary science department at Tuskegee University. The courses he developed included the study of anatomy and physiology of the diseases and treatment of farm animals. Bias is not only credited for establishing veterinary science as an essential component of the agriculture curriculum, but he is also credited with introducing the clinical practice of veterinary medicine to the community, helping to foster a positive image of veterinarians. Dr. Bias worked at Tuskegee from 1910 through 1928 and was instrumental in the establishment of the School of the Veterinary Medicine at Tuskegee University.

Cornell University

Est. 1894

Dr. Augustus Nathaniel Lushington

Dr. Kirksey Curd

About Dr. Curd
Class of 1912

Hometown: Fulton, KY

Curd was born in Fulton, KY, but moved to Perry, OK with his family at a very young age. Curd’s journey eventually took him to Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine where he graduated as the first Black veterinary graduate in 1912. After graduation, Curd decided a year later to attend medical school and enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School. After this second impressive medical degree, Curd spent the remainder of his career as a practicing physician at the Frederick Douglass Memorial Hospital in Philadelphia.

Dr. Augustus Nathaniel Lushington

Dr. Lila Miller

About Dr. Miller

Class of 1977

Hometown: Harlem, NY

Born and raised in Harlem, NYC, Miller had long dreamed of becoming a veterinarian. She pushed through all the obstacle of the 70s until it that dream became a reality. First attending Cornell University as an undergraduate, Miller spent her junior year abroad at the University of Reading in England before attending Cornell’s veterinary college. In 1977 Miller graduated along with her classmate Dr. Rochelle Woods as the first two Black female veterinary graduates of Cornell’s CVM. Following graduation, Miller worked for the ASPCA until her retirement in 2019 as Vice President of Shelter Medicine. While at the ASPCA, Miller helped implement the first formal health care guidelines for shelter animals and helped replace the use of the decompression chamber for euthanasia with euthanasia by injection. In 1999, Miller taught the first class in shelter medicine at a veterinary college in the US at Cornell, and in 2003 taught the first shelter medicine course on VIN. Miller also co-edited 4 shelter medicine textbooks. Miller served as adjunct professor at both Cornell and the University of Pennsylvania’s veterinary colleges and has lectured extensively both nationally and internationally. Miller is a co-founder of the Association of Shelter Veterinarians (ASV) where she served as president and later board member. For her extensive contributions Miller has received a number of awards including Outstanding Service to Veterinary Medicine in 1999, animal welfare awards from both AAHA in 2005, and the AVMA in 2008, Cornell’s Daniel Elmer Salmon award in 2014, and in 2019, the Service to the Veterinary Community and the Welfare of Animal awards from NYC VMA.

* In the photo: Dr. Miller (left) with her mother, receiving the AAHA Animal Welfare Award

Dr. Augustus Nathaniel Lushington

Dr. Rochelle Woods

About Dr. Woods
Class of 1977

Hometown: Buffalo, NY

With her classmate Dr. Lila Miller, Woods graduated in 1977 as the one of the first two Black female graduates of Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine. Following graduation Woods pursued a career with the US. Department of Agriculture where she served as a Veterinary Medical Officer with the APHIS, Veterinary Services for thirty years before her retirement.

Kansas State University

Est. 1905

Dr. Augustus Nathaniel Lushington

Dr. John William Brown

About Dr. Brown
Class of 1912

Hometown: Bourbon County, KS

Brown is famed to have entered Kansas State University at the very young age of 16. He continued to Kansas State University CVM, graduating as the first black male graduate in 1912. After graduation, Brown became the head of Agricultural Instruction at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama for a year, after which he enlisted in the army becoming Second lieutenant during WWI. Brown served as a Veterinary Surgeon in the US Army after which he became a Federal meat inspector for the US Department of Agriculture until his retirement.

Dr. Augustus Nathaniel Lushington

Dr. Belinda Joy Mason

About Dr. Mason

Class of 1983

Hometown: Alabama

Manson practiced as a small animal veterinarian in Colorado then in California (no additional information).

Colorado State University

Est. 1907

Dr. Augustus Nathaniel Lushington

Dr. Thomas W Stewart

About Dr. Stewart

Class of 1914

After graduating from Fisk University, a historically black college in Nashville, Tennessee, Steward travelled to Fort Collins to attend Colorado’s College of Veterinary Medicine. He graduated from the three-year program in veterinary medicine in 1914, making him the first Black man to do so. As a student he was known to be very involved with the Veterinary Medical Association on campus. Though not much is known about his life post graduation, it is known that he went on to become a Federal Veterinary Inspector for the US Department of Agriculture in Kansas City, Missouri.

Dr. Augustus Nathaniel Lushington

Dr. George W. Cooper

About Dr. Cooper

Class of 1918

After graduation for Colorado’s College of Veterinary Medicine, Cooper went on to run a large animal practice in Keenesburg, Colorado for 25 years after which he joined Tuskegee CVM as an inaugural faculty member. One of the first Black Americans to hold membership in the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), Cooper ensured access to professional societies was available to students and helped establish a student chapter of AVMA at Tuskegee. His students showed their appreciation for his continued dedication and commitment by affectionately referring to him as “Dad Cooper.” Cooper served the school for 24 years until his retirement in 1969, and continued involvement in school affairs until his death in 1978.

Washington State University

Est. 1899

Dr. Augustus Nathaniel Lushington

Dr. Winfred A. Jordan

About Dr. Jordan
Class of 1920

Hometown: Lewes, DE

Not much is known about Jordan’s early years, however it is known that he attended Tuskegee University for his undergraduate studies. Jordan then attended the soon to close San Francisco Veterinary College in 1917 before transferring to Washington State CVM. After graduation from Washington State CVM as the first Black male veterinary graduate in 1920, Jordan pursued a master’s from the University of Utah in 1923. Soon after his studies, Jordan served as an Instructor at Delaware State College, and was involved with the U.S. Bureau of Animal Industry. Jordan was then appointed by Gov. William Hastle to a post in the Virgin Islands to serve as Veterinarian in the region.

Iowa State University

Est. 1879

Dr. Augustus Nathaniel Lushington

Dr. Frederick Douglass Patterson

About Dr. Patterson
Class of 1923

Hometown: Washington, DC

Patterson is known as the most prominent Black veterinarian in the United States. Born in Washington, D.C. in 1901, he was named after the great abolitionist and D.C. resident Frederick Douglass. Unfortunately, at 2 years of age, both of Patterson’s parents passed away from tuberculosis. Patterson then moved in with his sister Bessie, his primary caregiver, who sacrificed to ensure him a good education, enrolling him in the private elementary school of Samuel Huston College (currently Huston-Tillotson College) setting him up for the promising career ahead of him. Having a love of animals and science and inspired by Iowa State veterinary medicine alumnus Dr. Edward B. Evans who he worked for, Patterson decided to attend Iowa State CVM. After his veterinary degree, Patterson pursued a master’s from Iowa State in 1927. During his studies Patterson taught veterinary medicine at Virginia State College while serving at the Director of Agriculture. Only a year after his Masters, in 1928, Patterson was appointed by his mentor Dr. Evans, as the Head of Veterinary Division at Tuskegee. Patterson was still aiming to further his education at the time and worked on his PhD in Veterinary Pathology which he received from Cornell in 1932. Not long after, at the young age of 33, Patterson moved to Tuskegee, and became the third president of Tuskegee Institute. Patterson is credited for founding the Tuskegee College of Veterinary Medicine and was a driving force behind the formation of the Tuskegee Airmen during World War II. Patterson was also the founder of the United Negro College Fund in 1944 and the recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1987.

Michigan State University

Est. 1910

Dr. Augustus Nathaniel Lushington

Dr. Harry L. Butler

About Dr. Butler
Class of 1940

Hometown: Bronx, NY

Though not much is known about his early years, during his time at Michigan State University (or at the time, Michigan State College of Agriculture and Applied Science) as an undergraduate, Butler was a member of the varsity cross country team and became MSC’s first African American team captain in any sport in 1938. Butler then went on to be an instructor at Southern University before he took an assignment as a Federal Veterinarian with the Bureau of Animal Industry under the US Department of Agriculture in Omaha, Nebraska. Dr. Butler passed away on January 15, 1963.

Dr. Augustus Nathaniel Lushington

Dr. Tracie E. Bunton

About Dr. Bunton
Class of 1977

Hometown: Michigan

After graduation from Michigan State CVM in 1977, Bunton went on to make great achievements in the field of toxicology. Bunton is the founder and co-founder of two preclinical toxicology consulting businesses. Held Senior Director of Pathology, Safety Assessment Representative for Drug Development, Research Scientist, Investigative Toxicology representative, Liaison to Discovery Research, and managerial positions in the Pharmaceutical Industry. Bunton worked for one year as small animal practitioner, two years as faculty at Michigan State University and fifteen years as faculty at The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Bunton was appointed to National Toxicology Program Board of Scientific Counselors, Society of Toxicology Animals in Research Committee, Society of Toxicologic Pathologists Executive Committee, World Health Organization International Agency for Research on Cancer working groups, and various editorial boards. Bunton was awarded the Smithsonian Institution George E. Burch Fellow in Theoretic Medicine and Affiliated Sciences for exceptional scholarship and creative thinking in research, as well as Michigan State University Distinguished Veterinary Alumnus Award. Author or co-author of 50 peer reviewed publications. In addition to her strong scientific background, Bunton obtained an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Fashion Marketing at Parsons School of Design (The New School) and with her artistic skills creates photomontage art related to the African American cultural experience throughout history.

Tuskegee University

Est. 1945

Left to Right: Dr. Demetrice L. Lyles, Dr. Forde B. McWilliams, Dr. Alfreda Johnson Webb, Dr. Earl V. Brown.

Courtesy of Tuskegee College of Veterinary Medicine

Dr. Augustus Nathaniel Lushington

Dr. Alfreda Johnson Webb

About Dr. Webb

Class of 1949

Hometown: Mobile, AL

Though not much is known about Webb’s early life, it is known that she was born in Mobile, AL, and attended the then Tuskegee Institute for her undergraduate studies. In 1945, Webb joined a small group of other Black individuals as the inaugural class to the Tuskegee College of Veterinary Medicine. In 1949, Webb graduated as the first Black woman to graduate from a veterinary school in the US, becoming soon after the first Black woman licensed to practice veterinary medicine in the US. Webb remained at the Tuskegee Institute where she taught anatomy until 1959, completing her tenure as an Associate Professor. She then served as a Professor of Biology at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (NC A&T) from 1959-1978. During her time at NC A&T, she was a member of the planning committee which founded the School of Veterinary Medicine of North Carolina State University. Webb was also very active in the political sphere. She went on to serve as a legislator, holding several positions within the Democratic Party of North Carolina. In 1971, she became the first African American woman in the North Carolina General Assembly, serving on many committees including serving as the Chairperson of Minority Affairs, president of the Democratic Women of NC, and a member of the NC Council on Sickle Cell Syndrome. Webb retired from her state minority representative position in 1978 to run for the state House in Guilford County. Among her many awards and accolades, Webb received the Distinguished Alumni Award from Tuskegee University in 1972 and was inducted into the NC A&T Agriculture Hall of Fame in 1999. She passed away in October of 1992 after a battle with breast cancer.

Dr. Augustus Nathaniel Lushington

Dr. Earl V. Brown

About Dr. Brown
Class of 1949
Information not known
Dr. Augustus Nathaniel Lushington

Dr. Demetrice L. Lyles

About Dr. Lyles
Class of 1949
Information not known
Dr. Augustus Nathaniel Lushington

Dr. Forde B. McWilliams

About Dr. McWilliams
Class of 1949

Information not known

Oklahoma State University

Est. 1948

Dr. Augustus Nathaniel Lushington

Dr. Rodye Butler

About Dr. Butler

Class of 1960

Hometown: West Virginia

Born in Pennsylvania (5th of 13 children) Butler moved at an early age to West Virginia where he grew up. Prior to attending veterinary school, Butler served in the U.S. Army and retiring from the Army Reserves as a Major. Butler then went on to attend Oklahoma State University, he graduated in 1960 as their first Black veterinarian. Post graduation, Butler practiced veterinary medicine for a few years before going into private practice at the Plainfield Animal Hospital in Plainfield, Indiana, where he continued until 2015. Butler served as president of the Alpha Beta Chapter of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, the Plainfield Rotary Club, and the Central Indiana Veterinary Medical Association. He was a Charter Member of the Board of Directors for the Plainfield Chamber of Commerce, a member of the Indiana Veterinary Medical Association, a 30-year member of the American Veterinary Medical Association, and a life member of the NAACP and the Plainfield Library. In 1985, the Governor appointed Butler to serve a four-year term as a member of the Indiana State Board of Animal Health. He also received a two-year appointment to the Indiana Humane Society Board of Directors. Butler was one of four members of the 1995 Family of the Year awarded by the Page Jackson High School Alumni Association in Charles Town, West Virginia and in December 1996, he became a member of the Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity. Butler passed away at the age of 87 in November 2016.

University of California, Davis

Est. 1948

Dr. Augustus Nathaniel Lushington

Dr. Amy Hosein

About Dr. Hosein
Class of 1965

Hometown: Houston, TX

Having a passion for veterinary medicine at a young age, prior to veterinary school, Hosein volunteered with and later worked for a Tuskegee University CVM graduate, in his mixed animal practice in her hometown, Houston, Texas. Finally, in the fall of 1961, Hosein entered a class of 52 students as one of 7 women and the first and only Black student admitted at UC Davis CVM. After graduation in 1965, Hosein joined the staff of the University of California/Atomic Energy Commission Radiobiology Laboratory as a research and clinical veterinarian, where she participated in studies on the effects of radionuclides in the beagle to extrapolate the findings to human studies. In 1970, Hosein joined the Animal Health Division of the Ministry of Agriculture of Trinidad and Tobago, where she was involved in planning, establishing, and managing a regional diagnostic laboratory which focused on rabies and tick-borne diseases. In her position, Hosein also conducted animal and food inspections at the airport, ports, and food processing plants, and engaged in field work visiting poultry and pig farms to advise, vaccinate and treat with the goal of increasing food production for farmers in this developing nation. During this time, Hosein started a small animal practice, focusing primarily on dogs and birds. In 1975, Hosein returned to California, and along with her husband opened a small animal practice in San Jose. At the time Hosein joined a group of other veterinarians in the area to establish the United Emergency Animal Hospital, which is now United Veterinary Specialists and Emergency, in the South Bay. Hosein retired from active practice in 1998 but continued her lifelong interest in Veterinary Medicine. She served the community as a volunteer exhibit interpreter for the Tech Museum of Innovation, now The Tech Interactive, for 20 years, where she enjoyed exchanging information about old and new technologies with diverse groups of visitors.

University of Illinois

Est. 1948

Dr. Augustus Nathaniel Lushington

Dr. Emmanuel N. Agwuna

About Dr. Agwuna
Class of 1967

Hometown: Inyi, Nigeria

Not much information is known about Agwuna, though it is known that after graduation in 1967 as the University of Illinois CVM’s first Black male veterinary graduate, he returned to his home country in Nigeria where he is associated with the Oke-Afa farms and works with the Nigerian Federal Livestock Department at the Zonal Office in Enugu.

University of Missouri

Est. 1884

Dr. Augustus Nathaniel Lushington

Dr. Abubakar Gofolo Lamorde

About Dr. Lamorde
Class of 1970

Hometown: Mubi, Nigeria

Born in 1944 in the state of Adamawa in Nigeria, Lamorde travelled to the states for his studies. In 1968 he earned a Bachelor of Science from the University of Missouri where he continued to earn his DVM as their first Black veterinary graduate in 1970. Lamorde travelled to California after his graduation to pursue a Masters in Preventative Veterinary Medicine then a PhD from the University California, Davis, graduating in 1973 and 1975 respectively. It is listed that Lamorde remained a lecturer at Ahmudu Bello University in Zaria, Nigeria from 1970 to 1976 and was promoted to Senior lecturer in 1976. Lamorde served for 3 years as the Assistant Director at the National Veterinary Research Institute in Vom, Nigeria from 1976-1979 after which he became Director of National Veterinary Research Institute from 1979. Among Lamorde’s award is a Merit award from the local government of Mubi, and the National Productivity Merit award from the Federal Government of NIgeria in 1991.

Dr. Augustus Nathaniel Lushington

Dr. Reggie Cox

About Dr. Cox
Class of 1985

From her graduation in 1985, as the University of Missouri’s first Black veterinary graduate, Cox has been a practicing Small Animal Practitioner in Anne Arundel County, Maryland.

Texas A&M University

Est. 1916

Dr. Augustus Nathaniel Lushington

Dr. James L. Courtney

About Dr. Courtney
Class of 1970

Hometown: Palestine, TX

Courtney remained an active alumnus to the university and received an “Outstanding Alumni Award” from Texas A&M CVM in 1998. After graduation, his career led him to private practice for a short time, then to the U.S. Department of Agriculture where he worked in the Meat and Poultry Inspection Program until his retirement.

Purdue University

Est. 1957

Dr. Augustus Nathaniel Lushington

Dr. William Dunn

About Dr. Dunn
Class of 1971

Information not known

Dr. Augustus Nathaniel Lushington

Dr. Doris Hughes

About Dr. Hughes
Class of 1973

Information not known

Louisiana State University

Est. 1968

Dr. Augustus Nathaniel Lushington

Dr. Elvia Ricardo Bridges

About Dr. Bridges
Class of 1980

Hometown: Prentiss, MS

Not much is known about Bridge’s early years, but after graduation from LSU SVM in 1980 as the first Black male veterinary graduate, Bridges went on to MS State as a clinical instructor, then to Michigan State CVM where he completed a therio residency. He has been at Tuskegee since 1985 and is a boarded theriogenologist. Bridges currently works on equine, though mostly bovine and herd health. Bridges is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Large Animal Medicine and Surgery at Tuskegee’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

Dr. Augustus Nathaniel Lushington

Dr. Toya McWilliams

About Dr. McWilliams
Class of 1987

Hometown: New Orleans, LA

After graduating from LSU SVM as their first Black woman veterinary graduates, McWilliams, went on to work from the US Department of Agriculture, then completed a post-doctorate fellowship in comparative medicine at John Hopkins University School of Medicine. After which, McWilliams worked with several companies like Pfizer and AstraZeneca until becoming a Research and Development Operations Executive at Ayota International

University of Tennessee

Est. 1974

Dr. Augustus Nathaniel Lushington

Dr. Jean Boyd McNeil

About Dr. McNeil
Class of 1980

Hometown: Nashville, TN

Born in Chicago, IL, McNeil grew up in Nashville, TN, the third of four daughters, into a middle-class family. With two college educated parents and a father with a duo doctorate in pharmacology and toxicology, the expectation was for McNeil and her sibling to do the same. Her father inspired her to follow a profession in medicine and by high school had set her sights on becoming a veterinarian. McNeil recalls trying to find work or volunteer opportunities at every hospital she could in Nashville, though no one would hire her or allow her to volunteer. McNeil then focused her efforts on taking animal courses in college and gaining experience through student organizations and extra curricular activities. She graduated college with a Biology major and a double minor in Mathematics and Chemistry and secured her spot at the University of Tennessee’s College of Veterinary Medicine. McNeil recalls feeling alone as the sole African American individual on campus. She recalls that even the janitorial staff was entirely white. McNeil persevered and graduated in 1981 as UTCVM’s first Black veterinarian. After graduation, McNeil moved to North Carolina where she worked at an after-hours veterinary hospital and a day hospital in Fayetteville, NC simultaneously. After a few years there, McNeil moved with her husband to Wilmington, NC where she worked for a few years at a local hospital and then shifted into public health, working at the local animal shelter. McNeil became the director of Animal Control Services and embarked on a 20-year long career in shelter medicine where she helped to shed light on issues at a time where shelter medicine was not yet a recognized field. During her tenure at New Hanover County, McNeil helped build a new facility and added a spay/neuter hospital edition several years later. She was critical in helping to foster a trusting relationship with both the community and the nearby veterinarians in helping to provide affordable veterinary care to the public. In addition to helping create a sustainable shelter program for the county, McNeil was involved with outreach to elementary schools, helping to spread information about rabies prevention. Working with Dr. Robert (Bob) Weedon, McNeil was very involved in a pre-veterinary program as the University of NC, Wilmington. Many of the pre-veterinary students went on to become veterinarians. McNeil describes working with and mentoring these future veterinarians as one of her greatest joys.

Dr. Augustus Nathaniel Lushington

Dr. Anthony Peterson

About Dr. Peterson
Class of 1992

Hometown: Philadelphia, PA

After graduation in 1992, Peterson began his career as a large animal practitioner in Nashville, TN before moving to Florida to pursue mixed animal practice in 2001. He was also a consultant and spokesman for Triad Specialty Product from 2004-2005. Peterson continued to provide medical and surgical care for mixed animal patients until 2006 when he returned to Cordova, TN as a veterinary associate at the Pet Med Veterinary Emergency Hospital. In 2008, he became the practice manager at Pets Choice Animal Clinic Whitehaven in Memphis, TN, then became the lead veterinarian for Banfield, Pet Hospital in Memphis TN in 2009. In 2011 Peterson became a Supervisory Veterinary Medical Officer with the US Department of Agriculture, Food and Safety Inspection Services in Newbern TN, remaining in that position until 2015. Currently, Peterson is a Consumer Safety Office for the Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Regulatory Affairs in Memphis, TN.

University of Florida

Est. 1976

Dr. Augustus Nathaniel Lushington

Dr. Gerald Johnson

About Dr. Johnson
Class of 1982

Hometown: Miami, FL

Born on March 14, 1955, Johnson, is a native of Miami, Florida. From a young age, Johnson knew he was interested in a career in veterinary medicine. His first job was working for Dr. Charlie Bild at the Bild Small Animal Clinic of Miami, at the age of 13. Bild became Johnson’s mentor and role model and greatly influenced his decision to pursue veterinary medicine. After finishing high school in 1973, Johnson attended Tuskegee University, where he received his Bachelor of Science degree in animal and poultry science. In 1977, he was accepted into the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine. He began his studies there and completed his DVM degree in 1982, becoming the first Black man to receive this degree in Florida. After graduating from veterinary school, he then worked in a few clinics before purchasing his first veterinary clinic, The Quality Care Animal Hospital in Miramar, Florida. He successfully practiced and managed this practice while purchasing two other hospitals, Flamingo Animal Hospital and Opa-Locka Animal Clinic. Over a 12-year period, eventually all three practices were sold to allow more time raising his only daughter. Dr. Johnson later left the South Florida area and relocated to Brooksville, Florida. Between 2010 and 2011, Dr. Johnson and his significant other, built Silverthorn Animal Clinic, a small animal practice in Spring Hill, Florida. In 2018, he sold his practice and continued at Silverthorn as an associate and veterinary medical director for the clinic, which had 16 employees. In April 2020, Forte Veterinary Partners LLC offered Dr. Johnson the opportunity to purchase the clinic back. He decided to do so, and remains at Silverthorn Animal Clinic, where he combines his love for pets and their people with his experience in conventional and alternative medicine. Since 2014 Johnson has been involved in a Weekly Radio Show with WWJB FM 99.9 titled “Medical news that you can use for your pets” among his many other activities. In 2019, Johnson was appointed to serve as a member of the UF College of Veterinary Medicine Admissions Committee.

University of Georgia

Est. 1976

Dr. Augustus Nathaniel Lushington

Dr. Esco Hall, Jr.

Dr. Augustus Nathaniel Lushington

Dr. Henry McKelvin

About Dr. Hall & Dr. McKelvin
Class of 1973

Hometowns: Alamo and Sylvester, GA (respectively)

The College of Veterinary Medicine accepted its first black students in 1969. Esco Hall, Jr. and Henry McKelvin were already acquainted, as they had completed their undergraduate degrees together at what is now Fort Valley University. Hailing from small towns in South Georgia (Alamo and Sylvester, respectively), the men were well aware of the sentiments of the era regarding race, but both maintained a solemn dignity regarding prejudice. On the topic, Dr. McKelvin explained, “I never had a problem with people, and I never understood the problems with race. I’m easy to get along with myself, and if you’re not, I just won’t deal with you.” Both men agreed that they saw improvements during their time at UGA. In a past interview, Dr. Hall put it simply: “there was still evidence of segregation even though UGA was integrated, but you really didn’t have time to notice because the curriculum was so intense.”

This is not to say that times were easy on campus as Athens and Clarke County still coped with the aftershocks of integration. The city, like many in the South, was still geographically segregated with defined borders around historically black and white neighborhoods, and many establishments in the area forbade black patrons. Institutionally, the university did its best to be inclusive and open for all, but it would take time to adjust and grow into the changing times.

But the social climate did not hinder the burgeoning veterinarians. Both graduates immediately jumped into private practice in 1973. Dr. Hall traveled to Baxley, Georgia, and purchased the Appling Animal Hospital only one week after graduation, which he operated for 46 years until his death in November 2019. Dr. McKelvin traveled to Richmond, Virginia, before finding his home in Hampton, Virginia, at Mercury Animal Hospital just three years later. He has since owned and operated the practice alongside his daughter, Dr. Nicole McKelvin, a graduate of the NC State College of Veterinary Medicine.

Dr. McKelvin still resides in Hampton, Virginia, with his family. He has no current plans to retire but would like to shift his focus to surgery and has plans to see the rest of the United States. Both men, in their own words, imparted the following advice for current veterinary students, “Work hard and do what you came here to do.” In the words of Dr. McKelvin: “Seek out those people you feel comfortable with and enjoy the experience—but remember you are here for a purpose.”

(credit: University of Georgia CVM)

North Carolina State University

Est. 1978

Dr. Augustus Nathaniel Lushington

Dr. Tracy Hanner

About Dr. Hanner
Class of 1986

Hometown: Bear Creek, NC

Graduating from high school in North Carolina two years before desegregation, Hanner experienced his fair share of brushes with racism. He never let it deter him however and he pushed on to attend veterinary school, joining the second ever graduating class and graduating as NC State CVM’s first Black veterinarian. Right after graduation, in July of 1986, Hanner began his academic career at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in Greensboro. At A&T, Hanner served as the coordinator, resident clinical veterinarian, and instructor for the bachelor’s program in laboratory animal science and the pre-veterinary medicine program. He retired in 2016, though in 2019 he returned to serve as the interim chairman of A&T’s Department of Animal Sciences for a year. Over three decades at A&T he mentored countless animal science courses and pre-veterinary students. Hanner led efforts to establish the North Carolina Laboratory Scholars Program, a collaboration between A&T and the NC State CVM. For 17 years, he served as a member of the CVM’s admissions committee. Hanner was a founding member of the North Carolina Association of Minority Veterinarians. Among his honors were the Iverson Bell Award from the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges in 2009, the National Role Model Award from Minority Access, Inc. in 2005, Teacher of the Year Award, A&T Chapter of Gamma Sigma Delta in 2001. In 1991, he was honored by the CVM with its Distinguished Alumni Award, just five years after graduation. A scholarship in his name, the Tracy Hanner DVM Scholarship Endowment, was fully funded in 2020 in support of underrepresented minority DVM students at the CVM, with preference given to students coming from under-served communities.

Virginia Tech

Est. 1978

Dr. Augustus Nathaniel Lushington

Dr. Margie Lee

About Dr. Lee
Class of 1986

Hometown: Bedford County, VA

Born in a rural area of Virginia down the road from Booker T. Washington’s birthplace and west of Appomattox Court House where the Civil War ended. Lee’s childhood was spent exploring the wooded mountains on her pony, hoping that school desegregation would allow a future in veterinary medicine. Her great-great-grandfather had donated the land and helped build the first school for black children in her area which was attended by generations of her family. Unbeknownst to her, the first black veterinarian in the US had practiced and was buried nearby. After graduating 5th in her class in an integrated high school located on part of Thomas Jefferson’s summer plantation, Lee began her undergraduate years at Virginia Tech graduating in 1982 with a Biology major and Chemistry minor, Lee went on to attend the College of Veterinary Medicine at her alma mater. Along with her classmate Dr. Lynn Hoban, Lee graduated as the first two Black veterinarians (and first Black women veterinarians) in 1986 from Virginia-Maryland’s CVM. Lee went on to pursue a master’s in medical microbiology from the University of Georgia in 1988 followed by a PhD in the same field also from UGA in 1990. After her PhD, Lee served two years as research assistant professor at Washington University’s Biology department completing a Postdoctoral under Dr. Roy Curtiss III. In 1992, she returned to UGA’s College of Veterinary Medicine, where she worked as professor in a joint appointment to the Department of Medical Microbiology and Parasitology and the Department of Avian Medicine. In 2003, still at UGA CVM, Lee was appointed to both the college’s Department of Population Health and Department of Infectious Diseases where she served as Professor and eventually Professor Emeritus for 15 years until 2018. During this time, Lee served a one-year term as the Associate Director of the Biomedical Health Sciences Institute, and a three-year term as the Diagnostic Laboratory Director to the Poultry Diagnostic and Research Center both in Athens, GA. In 2018, Lee took up the position of Department Head at her alma mater, Virginia-Maryland CVM in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology. Throughout her career thus far, Lee has made significant contributions to veterinary medicine and science. Lee’s research on the epidemiology of meat and poultry-borne food safety pathogens, microbial pathogenesis, and ecology of poultry intestinal microbiome resulted in 77 peer-reviewed publications thus far as well as chapters in the Merck Veterinary Manual and the Laboratory Manual for Isolation, Identification and Characterization of Avian Pathogens. In addition to her teaching, Lee was formerly the coordinator of the Graduate Affairs and graduate coordinator for the Masters of Avian Medicine program for the UGA College of Veterinary Medicine.

Dr. Augustus Nathaniel Lushington

Dr. Lynn Hoban

About Dr. Hoban
Class of 1986

Hometown: Upper Marlboro, MD

Hoban graduated with her classmate Dr. Margie Lee in 1986 as Virginia-Maryland’s first Black veterinary graduate. Hoban then joined a small animal practice in Indian Head, Maryland for 2 years. She then accepted a fellowship from the Naval Medical Research Institute where she worked with a group to develop a swine model to study septic shock for 3 years. After marrying William Stevens, M.D., an Army officer, Hoban resumed practicing small animal medicine in several different states. After retirement from the Army, Hoban and her husband settled in Arizona and started their own practices.

Dr. Augustus Nathaniel Lushington

Dr. Mario Dance

Dr. Mario Dance

Class of 1990

Hometown: Japan

Though born in Japan to a Panamanian mother, Dance spent his youth in California and Virginia. He calls Virginia home. Graduating just 4 years after Drs. Lynn Hoban and Margie Lee, Dance became the first Black man to graduate from Virginia-Maryland’s CVM program. Dance now works as a clinical veterinarian in charge of animal care at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in Richmond. For almost 15 years, he has also served as a consultant veterinarian with the Veteran’s Administration providing animal care and research consultation.

Western University

Est. 1998

Dr. Augustus Nathaniel Lushington

Dr. Danielle Lasley

About Dr. Lasley
Class of 2009

Hometown: California

After her graduation from Western University as their first Black veterinary graduate in 2009, Lasley went into small animal general practice where she practiced for 6 years. Lasley was also involved with high volume spay and neuter for 6 years in Simi Valley California. Currently, Lasley is with the Los Angeles Department of Animal Care and Control.

Lincoln Memorial University

Est. 2014

Dr. Augustus Nathaniel Lushington

Dr. Chelsie Steele

About Dr. Steele
Class of 2018

Hometown: Knoxville, TN

Practicing small animal medicine in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Dr. Augustus Nathaniel Lushington

Dr. Jaleesa Scott

About Dr. Scott
Class of 2018

Hometown: Stafford, VI

After graduation in 2018, Scott took on a job as a small animal practitioner in Cape Coral, Florida.

Midwestern University

Est. 2012

Dr. Augustus Nathaniel Lushington

Dr. Mercedez Hymes

About Dr. Hymes
Class of 2018

Hometown: Vista, CA

Dr. Hymes is from Vista, California. She completed a small animal internship after graduation and is currently practicing as a small animal practitioner at Papaya Pet Care in Carmel Valley, CA.

Dr. Augustus Nathaniel Lushington

Dr. Leigh Ann Howard

About Dr. Howard
Class of 2018

Hometown: Denver, CO

Along with her classmate Dr. Mercedez Hymes, Howard graduated in 2018 as one of Midwestern University CVM’s first Black veterinary graduates and a member of the inaugural class. After veterinary school, Howard did a small animal rotating internship at Purdue University. She is currently in a residency at Texas A&M University, specializing in small animal internal medicine.