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Young Volunteers Program 2018

VWB/VSF's Young Volunteers Program offers the next generation of animal health workers an international work opportunity designed to prepare them to address complex public health issues and work in cross-disciplinary settings. The participants are veterinary/animal health-related students and new graduates who are motivated and suited to working in animal/public health positions with global dimensions (i.e. emerging diseases, poverty-reduction, sustainable livelihoods, etc).  

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The 2018 Young Volunteer team just before departure in May. Top row (left to right): Katelyn Tilma, Yu Qing Sun, Olivia Mazurek, Stephanie Louie, Rachel Speare, Brent Ludwig, Carina Beeksma.Bottow row (left to right): Aiyanna Hoogsteen, Elle Coté, Alex Lundhild, Lydie-Amy Leclerc. Missing from the photo: Nicole Sheedy, Megan White, Regan Schwartz, Marie-Anne Sirois.

Meet the volunteers

Carina Beeksma

My name is Carina and I just finished my first year of veterinary school at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine. I have been working as a Registered Veterinary Technician in a small animal clinic for five years. Working abroad has always been a dream of mine and I am very excited to work with VWB in Uganda for the summer. 

Elle Côté 

My name is Elle Côté and I’m 24 years old. I’m Winnipeg-born but presently reside in Toronto, Canada. Currently I’m earning my Bachelor of Journalism degree at Humber College and have written for local publications since becoming a journalism student. I love being outside, travelling and, unsurprisingly, animals! At 8 years-old I decided to become a vegetarian and since then have become a vegan. I always try to keep the environment in mind with every decision I make. I’m excited to be working with VWB as it melds together two objectives I wish to carry out in my life: travelling the world and making a difference. I feel incredibly honored and grateful to be supporting such an amazing cause.

Aiyanna Hoogsteen

Hi everyone, my name is Aiyanna Hoogsteen and I am a student at the Ontario Veterinary College, where I just finished my first year. I am thrilled to be spending the summer in Kenya through Vets Without Borders, where I will be working with dairy farmers to improve cow welfare and health management practices. I am looking forward to the chance to use the skills I have learned so far and apply them to real-life situations. I am also excited to have this incredible opportunity to teach (and learn!) with some truly amazing people!

Lydie-Amy Leclerc

Hi, my name is Lydie-Amy Leclerc. I am very excited to be part of the V4H2 team going to Ghana this summer. I just completed my third year in veterinary medicine at Université de Montréal, Faculté de Médecine Vétérinaire. I am very eager to challenge my skills and abilities while in country. I hope to be able to help communities in my project abroad and make an impact on their daily lives. I am most excited about learning from the communities and work in parternership with them. I am sure this experience will bring me a better understanding of international development as well as how humans, animals and environment interact with each other.

Stephanie Louie

My name is Stephanie Louie and I am a student veterinarian heading into my second year of study at the Ontario Veterinary College.  This summer I am excited to be working with Veterinarians Without Borders in Ghana as part of the Volunteers for Healthy Animals and Healthy Communities (V4H2) project.  The goal of the placement is to sensitize rural smallholder farmers on animal husbandry techniques to help improve their livelihoods and food security.  I'm looking forward to the opportunity to make a positive contribution, and to learn about sustainable international development and the role of veterinary medicine in global health!

Brent Ludwig

Hi! My name is Brent Ludwig. I have just completed my B.Sc. Honours in Animal Biology at the University of British Columbia. This summer I will be going to Tanzania to partner with Africa Bridge to improve the health and welfare of poultry and cattle, thereby strengthening the livelihoods and household nutrition of small-scale farmers. This opportunity encompasses everything I am passionate about. Every day I strive to make a positive difference in the lives of the people and animals I encounter. Few things give me more joy than knowing I was able to help give someone a smile, or to help an animal feel content, well cared for, and safe. I am very excited for the opportunity to express my natural compassion for people and animals by working with my team in Tanzania to implement ideas that will directly improve the lives of the people and animals living in developing areas.

Alex Lundhild

Hello everyone. My name is Alexandra Lundhild and I have just completed my second year at the Ontario Veterinary College. I am extremely excited to be travelling to Kenya this summer to work with and help improve the lives of local dairy farmers and their cows. I am also eager to learn about a new culture and hopefully use and improve my veterinary skills!

Olivia Mazurek

Hello, my name is Olivia Mazurek and I will be working in Uganda over the summer with local dairy farmers alongside SNV. I have just completed my first year at the Ontario Veterinary College and look forward to working with the communities and applying what I have learned this year. I hope to gain a better understanding of both international veterinary medicine and local farming practices during my placement, and am eager to learn more about Uganda and it's people. I am very excited to be part of such an amazing project, and am thankful to be given the opportunity to participate. 

Regan Schwartz

My name is Regan Schwartz and I am a DVM/MPH student at St. George’s University, Grenada. I have just completed the 3rd year of my program and will be heading to the University of Saskatchewan to complete my 4th clinical year starting in September. My career interest is veterinary medicine as it applies to One Health so I am thrilled to be joining the Veterinarians Without Borders team in Vietnam to work with their public health partner; CENPHER. This project will be exciting and diverse as we will be supporting multiple research projects related to One Health in the area. I look forward to putting my MPH to good use and to contribute to the people and animals of Vietnam in a meaningful way.

Nicole Sheedy

Hi, my name is Nikki Sheedy and I will be working with 3 other veterinary students on the placement In Uganda.  During my placement I will be working on TIDE (The Inclusive Dairy Enterprise) project and will be partnered with SNV which is a Netherlands company.  I volunteered with vets without borders the previous year so I feel blessed to have the opportunity to continue the development work I was involved with in 2017.  International development has been a passion of mine so I am so excited to go back to Uganda!!!

Marie-Anne Sirois

Marie-Anne Sirois, 4th year student from the Faculté de Médecine Vétérinaire (FMV), was born and raised in Montreal, Québec, and recently moved to the countryside, in the wonderful city of Saint-Hyacinthe, to pursue her studies in veterinary medicine. After one year of working with a seeing-eye dog, Marie-Anne discovered there are many different types of people other than the classic “dog person” and “cat person,”, becoming herself a “rabbit person.”. She immediately became passionate about campus life and was elected to the FMV’s student association (Association des Étudiants en Médecine Vétérinaire du Québec, or AEMVQ), first as Coordinator of Internal Affairs, then as Coordinator of Student Life and finally, as Vice-President as well as being the student liaison with the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA). Fervent animal rights supporter, Marie-Anne is the founder and president of the Vege Club, bringing together all vegan, vegetarians and future-vegetarians from FMV, creating a growing community, and organizing events such as vegan thanksgivings, amongst many others. Her passion and ambition always leaves her overflowing with ideas and creating one project after another! She is beyond excited to be a part of VWB's project in Vietnam this summer, since it has always been her goal address social problems using veterinary training, and her dream would be to create a career in international development related to both animal & human population health. She truly believes that veterinarians can play a broader role in public health and animal wellness, in becoming local and global leaders, for the greater good, and is grateful to be able to be a part of these initiatives with this wonderful organization!

Yu Qing Sun

Hello!My name is Yuqing, and I just finished my first year of studies at the Ontario Veterinary College. This summer, I will be volunteering in Ghana and working with the local community to improve animal health and understanding of animal diseases. I have always believed the health of  animals, environment, and people are interconnect. Thus, I am really excited about this opportunity because it is a wonderful chance to use my interest in animal health to not only help better the lives of animals but also to better understand the impact on human health as well. I really look forward to working together with and learning from the veterinarians, the local communities, and my colleagues throughout this experience!

 Katelyn Tilma

Hello, my name is Katelyn and I am entering my third year at the Ontario Veterinary College this fall. I am extremely excited to be travelling to Uganda this summer! I look forward to developing with local communities and schools in an effort to contribute to the improvement of livelihoods for residents and their animals. I am eager to gain experience in international veterinary medicine and develop/improve many skill sets while experiencing the culture of a different country!

Megan White

Hi, my name is Megan White and I will be volunteering in Tanzania with VWB this summer! I am a Registered Veterinary Technologist, and an Agricultural Studies student at the University of Lethbridge. I was a part of the YVP cohort last year, spending three months in Kenya. I love being a part of an organization that creates sustainable change through education. I'm excited to be able to teach and learn again this summer in Tanzania!

To learn more about the Young Volunteer experience, check out the blog entries from last year’s volunteers. https://blog.vetswithoutborders.ca. 

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