PEMBROKE — University officials announced a partnership program between The University of North Carolina at Pembroke and N.C. State University designed to attract the brightest future veterinarians.
The program will serve as a pipeline to prepare undergraduates at UNC Pembroke for a career at one of the top veterinary schools in the nation.
On Wednesday, leaders of both institutions signed an agreement establishing the first-ever UNC System Veterinary Education Access Scholars Program.
The program grants two UNC Pembroke students — who meet the academic requirements — guaranteed acceptance into N.C. State’s College of Veterinary Medicine.
A ceremony was held on the N.C. State campus. Afterward, a tour was given of the $72 million Veterinary Health Complex. About 40 UNCP supporters attended the event.
“This is a key, pivotal day for The University of North Carolina at Pembroke,” said UNCP Chancellor Robin Gary Cummings.
“This partnership is all about the students,” Cummings said. “We wanted to establish a pathway to fulfill students’ dreams of becoming a veterinarian one day.”
UNCP senior Austin Deese said he thinks the new program will attract more pre-vet students like himself to Pembroke.
“This is going to be a good opportunity for our university to grow, especially in the Biology Department, related to veterinarian medicine,” Deese said.
Students selected to the early admission program will be paired with academic advisors from both institutions.
“When I started, I didn’t have any pre-vet advisors letting me know when I need to apply or what classes to take,” Deese said. “So I think this program is going to help the incoming students with all the groundwork.”
UNCP Junior Sarah Mariani, another pre-vet student, attended the signing along with a group of Purnell Swett High School students. UNCP trustees Kellie Blue and Don Metzger also joined the delegation.
Dakota Locklear, a junior at Purnell Swett, was raised on a cattle farm outside of Pembroke, is considering a future in veterinary medicine.
“I have always been interested in animals and agriculture, so I think this program will be a good way to bring it all together,” Locklear said.
Scholars in the UNCP Department of Biology selected to enter the program will be required to complete all academic requirements for a Bachelor of Science degree at UNCP, as well as meet all academic requirements for admission to NCSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine.
Hope Mills veterinarian Dr. Kent Dean charted a path from UNCP to N.C. State more than 40 years ago. He completed his undergraduate degree from UNCP in 1982 and graduated from N.C. State’s Vet School five years later.
Dean is the son of Howard Dean, who served in numerous positions, including, athletic director, director of teaching and vice chancellor for Academic Affairs, dean of the Graduate School at UNC Pembroke.
“I am so happy for UNC Pembroke,” Dean said. “It takes a lot of pressure off of students as far as the admission process. I am thrilled that UNCP has this program. I see this is as a wonderful opportunity for kids in this area.”
Pembroke veterinarian Dr. Sonya Chavis, also an alumna of UNCP and N.C. State, was recognized during the event.
“I count it a great honor for UNCP and N.C. State Vet School to come together and give students an even greater opportunity to be successful,” Dr. Chavis said.
Senators Bill Rabon and Danny Britt along with Representative Charles Graham also made the trip to offer their support.
“This is a highlight for UNC Pembroke and also a highlight for N.C. State,” said Rabon, a long-time veterinarian.
“It shows the passion that you all down in Pembroke have for your students and making sure they have access to everything they need to be successful.”
“This shows that Chancellor Cummings is thinking outside of the box and about what we can do to get students to our university in hopes they will come back to this area and become professional members of the community.
“This is a win-win situation. I look forward to more collaboration and articulations among our state’s institutions,” Rabon said.
Graham said it was privilege to see UNC Pembroke establish a collaborative relationship with N.C. State, a national leader in veterinary medicine.
“It’s such a great opportunity for local students to get a good start at UNCP and have this pathway to another great university,” Graham said. “I am very pleased and honored that UNCP has the first opportunity to partner with N.C. State’s Vet School.”
Britt applauded the partnership, calling it a “wonderful opportunity” for students in Robeson and surrounding counties.
“It was a pleasure to have my colleague Sen. Rabon accompany me to take part in this event,” Britt said. “We will both continue to work together to do whatever we can to promote UNCP and the entire southeast region of North Carolina.”
N.C. State Chancellor Randy Woodson said he is thrilled to partner with UNCP.
“It is increasingly important to us that we provide pathways to success at N.C. State through partnerships with the universities in our system and with our community colleges,” Woodson said.
This marks the second pathway program between UNC Pembroke and N.C. State in recent months. In July, the two institutions established a 3-plus-2 dual degree engineering program.
The 3-plus-2 degree gives students the opportunity to earn a bachelor’s degree in applied physics from UNCP in three years followed by a bachelor’s degree in electrical or mechanical engineering from the College of Engineering at N.C. State.
Mark Locklear is a public relations specialist at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke.