Two subway teens take advantage of the push for diversity in animal care

“In black communities, it’s still rare for us to see ourselves in this profession, which makes it difficult for us to encourage each other to consider and pursue veterinary medicine as a plausible and successful career,” Miller said.

Miller said students need support and resources to see first-hand the different veterinary medicine options available. Last year, Banfield announced a loan of nearly $10 million commitment to inspiring high school students from underrepresented backgrounds to become the next generation of veterinarians.

Banfield’s NextVet interns were selected based on their creative submissions and for being outstanding, well-rounded students who love animals.

The future looks bright for Chantia and Elias as they pursue their studies in veterinary science. They each wanted to follow this career path for a while.

Chantia, 18, attended a veterinary science program at Grayson High School. She graduated in the spring and is attending Fort Valley State University as a USDA/1890 National Fellow, majoring in veterinary technology.

“Banfield has given me this great experience as I begin my studies,” Chantia said, “and I hope to link what I learned there with what I learn in my classes.”

At Banfield Pet Hospital in Lawrenceville, Chantia helped with labs, learned how to manage each animal based on its size and personality, and worked with clients.

She said it’s impressive how vets, techs and assistants rely on their patients’ barking and body language to find out what’s wrong. Working at Banfield has helped her better understand her pet dog Gracie, an 8-year-old Chihuahua mix.

“We’re almost like detectives,” Chantia said. “We really need to be the bridge between these animals and their parents about what’s wrong and get them to feel 100 per cent. There’s nothing better than making a pet feel better.

Elias, a 16-year-old junior from Charles R. Drew High School in Riverdale, said he loves everything about his summer job at Banfield Pet Hospital in Morrow. He helped with procedures and surgeries, like sterilization. “I even liked putting the notes in after I finished,” he said.

Elias runs track at his school and is a leader of the Flint River Boys & Girls Club, where he was named 2021 Youth of the Year and a runner-up in the Metropolitan competition.

Elias was motivated to pursue animal medicine while working at Camp Kiwanis with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta. He would like to one day open a boutique line of veterinary clinics and offer his clients “a special family touch”.

He has a 3-year-old cat named Tuxedo — Tux, for short — and had a dog before his family gave him away as a service animal.

NextVet Intern Elias Dennis with Dr. Beverly Miller, Director of Veterinary Quality at Banfield Pet Hospital. Photo courtesy of Banfield Pet Hospital

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NextVet Intern Elias Dennis with Dr. Beverly Miller, Director of Veterinary Quality at Banfield Pet Hospital. Photo courtesy of Banfield Pet Hospital

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Elias said Banfield’s staff made his summer job fun and he was surprised at how enjoyable the job could be, even in a professional and orderly veterinary hospital. He has three colleges on his wish list – each with an on-campus veterinary school.

Chantia also enjoyed her internship because handling furry animals throughout the day is a boost for everyone, she says. She is grateful to Banfield for the opportunity.

“It was almost like a springboard for me, building on that passion,” she said. “It’s a great pack to be in overall. I am excited about the future.


MORE DETAILS

Banfield is the leading provider of veterinary care in the United States, with 1,000 hospitals nationwide.

In addition to Atlanta, NextVet interns have worked at pet hospitals in Dallas, Los Angeles, New York, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Portland/Vancouver, and Washington D.C.

To learn more or apply for next summer, visit jobs.banfield.com/NextVet

Benjamin M. Yerger