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About Us

Learn more about the Latinx VMA and its founders.
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About The Latinx VMA

The Latinx Veterinary Medical Association was founded in February 2020 by Yvette Huizar and Juan S. Orjuela. Growing up, they experienced a lack of Latinx representation in the veterinary profession. The absence of role models and support made their journey in veterinary medicine challenging, and at times, discouraging. They also observed how language and cultural barriers impacted client education and patient care. The Latinx VMA was created to form a community of Latinx excellence in veterinary medicine. Our community welcomes veterinarians, veterinary professionals, students, and clients. We are also proud to welcome allies that are invested in furthering our mission.

The Latinx VMA hopes to increase the visibility of current Latinx veterinary professionals and inspire more students to become veterinarians. We will also advocate on behalf of Latinx veterinary professionals and Latinx clients. The Latinx VMA wants you to embrace your heritage and help you promote the valuable contribution that you bring to your community. We hope to help you become a leader in our profession by amplifying your voice and providing you with a platform that supports you!

“We want the veterinary profession to reflect the diversity in our society."

OUR MISSION
YOUR GROWTH

To empower Latinx/Hispanic professionals in veterinary medicine and support the next generation of Latinx/Hispanic veterinarians.

OUR VISION
YOUR COMMUNITY

To help create a veterinary community that is representative of our society in order to make veterinary care more accessible to the Latinx community.

LVMA
Pillars of Empowerment

Our pillars of empowerment are the guiding principles for achieving our mission. They include professional development, mentorship, outreach, and scholarship.

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Professional Development

  • Offer unique continuing education opportunities
  • Connect our members with career opportunities, externships, and internships
  • Host Latinx VMA networking events, social nights, and conferences
  • Help create more Latinx leaders in our profession
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Outreach

  • Increase visibility of Latinx veterinary professionals and leaders
  • Educate middle school and high school students in our communities
  • Help Latinx individuals pursue a career in veterinary medicine
  • Provide educational resources for our Latinx clients
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Mentorship

  • Sustain a network of veterinarians through our DVM Directory and mentorship program
  • Build a strong mentorship program to support & connect veterinary students and veterinarians
  • Encourage LVMA Student Chapter led  mentorship programs to support pre-veterinary students
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Scholarship

  • Provide meaningful scholarships for veterinary students, pre-veterinary students, and veterinarians
  • Offer stipend/grant opportunities to veterinary students
  • Create financial support options for disadvantaged students applying to veterinary school or taking the NAVLE licensing exam

MEET OUR LEADERS

Juan S. Orjuela
Co-Founder / President

Juan, otherwise known as “Juancho” was born in Bogota, Colombia, and raised there until 2001 when he and his family immigrated to Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA. Juancho attended the University of Milwaukee-Wisconsin from 2012-2017, where he graduated with a bachelor’s in biology and environmental sciences. Currently, Juancho is a fourth-year veterinary student at the Ontario Veterinary College in Canada. He is passionate about promoting diversity and inclusion in the veterinary profession. His veterinary interests include physical rehabilitation, ophthalmology, emergency medicine, practice ownership, and taking on other leadership roles.

“Creer es poder! – believe, and you will achieve!”

Let’s connect! LinkedIn

Acacia M. Román, DVM
President Elect

Dr. Acacia Román was born and raised in Puerto Rico. She has her Bachelor’s degree in Animal Science from the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez. She earned her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from Tuskegee University School of Veterinary Medicine in 1994 and owned a mixed animal practice in Puerto Rico from 1995-2008. In 2008, Dr. Román relocated to the state of Georgia and worked as a small animal practitioner for Banfield Pet Hospital in Duluth, Ga until 2012.

In 2012 she joined the Royal Canin USA Scientific Services Veterinarian team where she participated in delivering continuing education programs on nutritional management of diseases of the renal, dermatological, gastrointestinal, urological systems, and obesity.

In 2017 Dr. Román joined the Technical Services Veterinary team at Vetoquinol USA. She supports the company’s sales force and veterinarians in the field. Her professional interests are Internal Medicine, Dermatology, Nutrition, Rehabilitation, and Behavior. Dr. Román continues to practice as a locum veterinarian in the state of Georgia.

Carlos Campos, DVM

Treasurer

Dr. Campos was born in Guatemala City, Guatemala. He immigrated to the US with his family in the late ’80s as a teenager. He graduated from the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine in 2002. He has served the Pasco/Hernando residents since graduation. Dr. Campos was a practice owner for 14 years. He was named America’s Favorite Veterinarian in 2013 by the AVMF.

“Follow your dreams and do not hang on to the past.”

Let’s connect! LinkedIn

Richalice Meléndez
Secretary

Richalice was born in Humacao, Puerto Rico and raised in Las Piedras, Puerto Rico until she was 11 years old. In 2006, her family moved to Miami, Florida. She attended Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, completing her Bachelor’s in Animal Science in 2016 and Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine completing her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree in 2021. She completed a small animal rotating internship at Friendship Hospital for Animals and is now practicing as a primary care veterinarian at Friendship Hospital for Animals.

“Enfrenta los obstáculos a medida que se presenten, no pierdas energía temiendo lo que pueda haber en el futuro.” – Isabel Allende

Let’s connect! LinkedIn

Carmen Fuentealba DVM; MSc; PhD; FAMEE
Director of Student Affairs

Dr. Carmen Fuentealba is a professor and Dean, at the College of Veterinary Medicine in Long Island University. She is originally from Chile and has taken on a variety of leadership roles throughout the world. She is a AVMA Liaison to PANVET (Panamerican Veterinary Association), and member of PANVET’s board of directors. She co-chairs the Diversity Equity and Inclusion Committee of the New York Veterinary Medical Society and the ASPIRE Student Engagement panel of the Association of Medical Educators of Europe.

Dr. Marina Tejada, DVM
Director of Outreach

Dr. Tejada is a Colombian-American veterinarian from New York City. Her parents immigrated from Colombia in the early 1970s. She graduated from the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine in 2010. She is a small animal and shelter medicine veterinarian at North Shore Animal League America, serving as a Supervising Veterinarian since 2014.

Her special interests include shelter medicine, surgery, emergency response, and mentoring pre-veterinary and veterinary students. She is currently on the Alumni Association Executive Board at the Cornell veterinary college, member of the President’s Council of Cornell Women, and a class representative of her high school alumni association.

Yvette Huizar
Co-Founder / Past President

Dr. Yvette Huizar is an Emergency Veterinarian in Dallas, Texas and is co-founder of the Latinx Veterinary Medical Association. Yvette is from the Central Valley in California and is a first-generation Mexican-American. Yvette received her BA from the University of California, Berkeley, and her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Cornell University CVM. Her medical interests include ultrasound, emergency surgery, and exotic pet medicine. Dr. Huizar is passionate about representing and empowering Latinxs in the veterinary community and advocating for Spanish-speaking clients.

“No importa cuantas veces te caigas, si no cuantas veces te levantas.”

Let’s connect! LinkedIn