About Our Organization

Mission Statement
Broad Spectrum Veterinary Student Association’s mission is to connect, support and empower community for LGBT+* students and allies across veterinary education.
*LGBT + will be used as an inclusive acronym for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer,Questioning, Asexual and others who self-identify on the sexual orientation and/or gender expression continuums.

Vision Statement
Broad Spectrum desires greater support and a sense of community for all LGBT+ students and allies throughout veterinary medical education. We actively strive to counter episodes of bigotry and marginalization with positive messages of diversity and inclusion. We have healthy, supportive and encouraging relationships with pre-veterinary, veterinary and graduate students, faculty, staff and administrators. We are known for advocating for the respect and equality of seen and unseen LGBT+ members in the academic veterinary community and beyond. We contribute to the development of safe and welcoming veterinary school environments for pre- and current veterinary students. Broad Spectrum makes veterinary schools more inclusive for all students, especially LGBT+ students. We accomplish this by starting important and courageous conversations about LGBT+ inclusion, in addition to maintaining much needed support for LGBT+ students in veterinary medicine.

Our History

We were founded in 2011 at the SAVMA Symposium hosted by UC Davis. The name 'Broad Spectrum' came out of a calculated attempt to be as inclusive as possible to any student who falls anywhere on the spectra of sexuality, sex, or gender. We welcome all students no matter their sexuality, gender identity, or gender expression. And yes, allies, this means we welcome you, too!

Our Links

Saturday, October 15, 2011


Broad Spectrum is very excited to start a recurring feature on our blog:  Interviews!

We are looking for veterinarians who are interested in being interviewed.  The interview would be conducted via email or phone, whichever is more convenient, and would focus on questions that pre-veterinary and veterinary students may have, especially with regards to being out in academia, the job interview process, and the workplace.  We believe this project will be important, not only as a resource to students, but as a means to strengthen a sense of visibility and community within the veterinary field.
If you are interested in participating or if you have questions you’d like to see answered, please email us at broadspectrumoutreach@gmail.com

To kick start this project, our current co-chairs decided to interview each other.  Please note that this will NOT be representative of the interviews we will conduct with veterinarians and other professionals!

And with that, we present:
A Long and Extraordinarily (Perhaps Regrettably) Candid Interview with:

Nikki (Ashley Nicole) Wright, University of Pennsylvania, class of 2014. (Broad Spectrum Intern/Resident Chair) 

Sonia Fang, Western University of Health Sciences, class of 2013 (Broad Spectrum Outreach Co-Chair)

Audrey Weaver, Tuskegee University, class of 2013 (Broad Spectrum Secretary)

William (Liam) Gilles, University of Wisconsin, class of 2013 (Broad Spectrum Outreach Co-Chair)

How it began:

Liam:  did we want to interview ONE OF US?

Sonia: oh shoot we are GREAT RESOURCES- i forgot!! LET US INTERVIEW EACH OTHER!

Liam: [we could] "interview" all of us via a chat and then edit it down to the BEST PARTS

Sonia: hahah you mean it'll be me typing LOL the entire time. SURE.

Nikki: sounds great - 'welcome to broad spectrum .. this is who we are.. we're just like you'

Liam: well, we'll edit out the "lols.” part of this whole thing is to be really inclusive, so we need to show people we're friendly/funny/and cooler than we really are

Audrey: good idea.

Liam: Who are we? Ready GO

Nikki: Nikki (Ashley Nicole) Wright, University of Pennsylvania, class of 2014, Wellesley College BA in Biology 2008, from Houston, TX; New Orleans, LA; Miami, FL; Boston, MA

Sonia: Sonia Fang.  Pomona College 2008.  Western University of Health Sciences, Class of 2013.   From: San Marino, CA. Interests.  HOLD ON.

Liam: Undergrad was a BA in Linguistics [at UW-Milwaukee, 2007], with a minor in Portuguese and an Asian Studies certificate; I've been known to break out the Portuguese and Mandarin if the mood strikes me.

Audrey: Audrey Weaver class of 2013 graduated from Virginia State University with a BS in animal science/pre-vet med.

Sonia: LIAM, YOU SPEAK MANDARIN AND YOU DIDN"T TELL ME THIS? The things you learn. *NBC shooting star*  Ok my interests: Identity, Race, Intersectionality (of multiple identities), Representation, The personal being political, Feminism, Music.  So.  that takes care of  the BUSINESS-y side of it. Do we want to have a goofy [interview] too? HOGWARTS HOUSE. I think I'd be in Hufflepuff. If we don't want to do that I DO NOT CARE I AM STILL IN HUFFLEPUFF.

Liam: I also am a legit gay cowboy and play ice hockey.

Sonia: maybe we can edit it and pretend I said Ravenclaw

Audrey: I like cupcakes

Nikki: hell yes! Cupcakes. I'd also like to include: running, yoga, cooking/baking, poetry, music, gardening, and good beer :)

Liam: GOOD BEER! And can I throw in “watching clothing hang on Idris Elba"?

Back to business.  So, what do you want to do, career-wise, after vet school?

Nikki: global public health, mixed animal practice, sustainable food production

Sonia: small animal medicine, maybe lab animal medicine

Liam: equine practice with a focus on sport horse medicine and eventually wind up … teaching, or working on the policy/government side of vet med

Audrey: Hoping to get into small animal emergency medicine, also into holistic/homeopathic medicine. Not sure how I'll work that but I'll work it!

And what interests led you to be involved in your school's LGBT organization or with Broad Spectrum?

Nikki: [I wanted to] help Penn Vet to be a welcoming environment for all students regardless of how they identify; help the veterinary profession become culturally competent in LGBTQ issues; shed light on the inequalities that still exist and rectify them

Sonia: yesss cultural competency, especially across professions: e.g. providing cultural competency for our DO (medical) students [and other human-centric colleges] in terms of LGBT access/inequities in health care, addressing general discrepancies (classism, racism, sexism, ableism, basically the intersectionality of all the -isms), addressing sensitive language for healthcare providers

In 5-10 years I would LOVE to see my school have awesome, non-tokenizing curricula that addresses LGBT health, I would LOVE to have a more inclusive non-discrimination policy that encompasses gender identity and expression, I would love to see a resource center that addresses competency esp with regards to LGBT health issues

Liam: because of my interest in gender (expression, orientation, identity, socialization, and everything else that could possibly mean) and sexuality, intra-LGBT "community" issues, and developing effective communication for people who aren't already obsessed with analyzing political, trans, and queer issues.

Audrey: I'm interested in broadening communication on LGBT /vet med issues, LGBT issues at Tuskegee University, helping more students come "out" and helping the TU chapter of LGVMA and Broad Spectrum with being a voice for our LGBT and ally students

So, be honest – what were you most afraid of when applying to/deciding where to go to veterinary school?

Audrey: I didn’t know how I would introduce my gayness to my classmates. I mean, I will be with them four years. I had no plans of being in the closet that long.

Nikki: I would have liked to have been able to get into contact with LGBTQ people at all the schools I was interested in applying to.. to ask questions etc

Sonia: to be honest, I was really focused on just getting through the application, but in terms of LGBT-related issues, I was worried that it wouldn't be a welcoming environment. I came from a very gay-friendly college (and even there I wasn't out). I was sick of it, so I decided to be active once I got to grad school. Our school handed out a little brochure of all the clubs, and I remember circling the ones I was interested in, one of which was Lambda [and Friends] and I told myself I WILL WALK MYSELF TO THAT BOOTH, AND I WILL SIGN. UP. And I did!

Liam: I also wasn't out in undergrad. I'd pretty much postponed it until getting into school, and I was freaked out about a lot - would it help or hinder on an application? Was the profession super-conservative? Would I EVER be able to be myself? I also had these issues with not feeling like I fit in with queer communities before I was out, so I didn't have much of a support system at all.

Nikki: not having a gay community... especially coming from an all women’s college in a really gay friendly city (Boston); honestly I was afraid to live in college station TX as a queer woman of color.. even though a lot of my family lives in TX... also I was in a serious partnership when i applied to vet school so I was concerned with things like partner benefits etc.

Liam: I was also in a serious relationship when I started school! it...ended. ha. We were together for 5 years when I started, and didn't make it a year in.

Sonia: Hah! Suckers. FREE AGENT.

Liam: NOT THAT ALL RELATIONSHIPS ARE DOOMED PEOPLE READING THIS INTERVIEW! I'm a free agent now, Sonia. He's great. Just couldn't handle the 'out'ness and being seen publicly as a gay man...which eventually wasn't enough for me. He's still my best friend. I still dress him.

Audrey: oh yeah being in Alabama i was terrified of being stoned or harassed

Did these fears prove to be valid? Or were you surprised by how awesome and sparkly your school experience has been so far?

Audrey: MY vet school experience has been AWESOME. My school mates are great, very supportive. Alabama still needs work though

Sonia: When I got to vet school, I wasn't sure if it was safe to be out, but I outed myself to help with Lambda. We discussed with the club advisers that some of us felt like it wasn't safe, and they addressed that with surprise because our school actually is supportive. Only there was no VISIBLE support. In the past, I think we had issues, but overall the higher administration and a good percentage of the faculty were supportive. So we addressed this by (one of our advisers) getting a bunch of rainbow stickers, cutting them up into slivers, and distributing them to people to put on their office doors, their IDs. It worked very well.

Liam: VISIBILITY YO. It is all about visibility. There was that awesome quote from the brother on that video [Our Families: LGBT Asian and Pacific Islander Stories: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OJMqIEBf2lY]- totally paraphrased here - being neutral isn't being supportive, it's just not being hostile.

Nikki: my vet school experience has been amazing .. honestly Penn is so great for LGBTQ stuff as a university.. but still working on a few things in the vet school.. like gender neutral bathrooms

Liam: I have had - for the most part - a good experience at school. Issues with the dreaded 'unearned familiarity', ran for SCAVMA pres, and heard rumors that people didn't want 'someone like me' running the show but that could have just been because my taste in music offended them or something

Audrey: Did  you wear red socks?? You'll lose every time!!

Liam: Yeah, that was it! Dammit, where were you to advise me?

Audrey: Sorry! Next time go for the blue ones!

Liam: Mostly I find a lot of really eager and supportive people whose main issue is they don't have a clue and say really offensive things in incredibly well-intentioned ways. The lack of education is astounding - and not just in the non-LGBTQA-oriented population.

Nikki: Totally.

Audrey: I agree.

Sonia: for sure, and coming from a[n undergraduate] school that really emphasized sensitive language, I was really surprised at the level of "That's so gay," or the more frequent "That's so retarded." It really irritated me because as a school focused on health, I had had higher expectations, especially with language. You're bringing that into your exam rooms, whether you realize it or not.

Liam: YES Sonia. I agree completely. I haven't run into a ton of 'that's so gay' comments, but the amount of people who just don't THINK is ridiculous.

Sonia: it's funny, I have heard [that’s so gay] maybe 2-3 times while in school, but I see it a lot on facebook.

Audrey: so true. the language is a bit insensitive here too. Students support our events every time but don't come to our general meetings and sometimes I'm asked if a certain event is "a gay thing".

Liam: there's a lot of homophobic jokes, or the usual when the teacher misgenders someone (during a VERY long day), the entire class thinks this is SO FUNNY OMG

Sonia: Yeah, sometimes we'll have skits and people will really play up "oh look at our guy student wearing a dress! it's so funny!" or "a presentation on tigers? let's bring si[e]gfried and roy into it. gay people! so funny!" so sometimes it's uncomfortable. But otherwise, my classmates have been very supportive! I've got so many friends that are hardcore allies and will support lambda in whatever we do, so that's wonderful

Nikki: We have a ton of 'ally' involvement in our club which is AWESOME. But I hated the repro system developmental stuff - They were really insensitive about jokes sometimes

Liam: learning about sexual development, you mean? Hella awks lectures to sit through.

Sonia: and the faculty [are supportive] too! and it sucks cause i know sometimes they get flak from more conservative teachers who are like "if you aren't gay why do you have that sticker up" and they have to address that they support the community. but no one has, to my face, ever been discriminatory knowing my involvement.

Liam: yeah, I think I know what you're trying to say. I have not had anyone directly say anything to me, it's more of an environment thing and things you HEAR happening

Sonia: yeah we had a data sheet recently and they were like "gender is a category. it's immutable." and i was like "uh" but it was awkward because i didn't want to get into a discussion on what gender vs sex meant, especially since i didn't think it would be well received because we were talking about dogs.

Liam: yeah - "WHAT MAKES A MALE? TESTES!" OTHERWISE IT IS A FEMALE!" That's a difficult thing - how do you NOT anthropomorphize, but still bring up salient gender/sexuality-oriented topics with people who are learning about ANIMALS? You can bring it from the perspective of clients in the future - but it doesn't help the immediate environment.

Audrey: yeah, I often bite my tongue because I can foresee that the conversation will go no where and their eyes will probably be glazed over

Sonia: exactly, i didn't know my place, especially as a student of veterinary medicine, whereas if I were a med student, it would have been relevant and important as an issue of competency.

Liam: YES Sonia. That's SO HARD. And it's hard because I genuinely LIKE my schoolmates, so I don't want to make an example out of any of them. It's hard to find out where these discussions fit in, and it's really easy to internalize that and feel like they don't fit in anywhere. Audrey - I hate having to bite my tongue. But I do it all. the. time.

Audrey: It sucks.

Sonia: Totally. I think in class, I do bite my tongue until it becomes blatantly obvious no one will address it. And in terms of social media/online, I think I am so open about, you know, posting a lot of LGBT-related things that THAT'S when people glaze over. Gay overload.

Liam: This seems a little... like we all got really depressed?

Audrey: depression=bad

Sonia: NOOOOO. Maybe we should share some fun facts/[inspirational take homes]

Liam: I am SO ENCOURAGED by the fact that we have 4 students from different schools even hashing this out and agreeing it's an issue. I think we're really at a time where people want to have conversations and go forward.

Nikki: yes it's totally exciting :)

Sonia: Yes, I think we're at an exciting time, where the hard work of all the previous generations is coming to a huge turn in public response. We're on the cusp of equality, at least the optimist that I hide somewhere is telling me this.

Audrey: I really wish there was a way we (LGVMA, Broad Spectrum) could speak with some schools about gay bullying and in general what it means and doesn't mean to identify as gay or lesbian

Sonia: If we ever get funding, I would LOVE to do something like that.

Liam: I would love to talk to younger generations, honestly. THAT SOUNDS SO OLD


Audrey: I tried down here but its Alabama. I got scared to start asking. I may start up again. My advisor was nervous about it also

Sonia: Yeah, serious kudos to you in Alabama.

Liam: "It's ok, baby queers, the sciences are awesome you do not have to go to art school!' For real, Audrey, you are an inspiration.

This is the precise moment at which the reality of being a vet student, studying round-the-clock, and having no life outside of school hits our sad interviewees:


Sonia: OK. FACTS. Shoot.

Liam: 1. I was a vocal percussionist in my high school band. We were called 'Stalking Shaun' and we pretty much sucked.

Audrey: I have four cats. One could say I loved pussy!! lol *potty mouth*

Liam: I have 2 tattoos

Nikki: no way. haha!

Audrey: I have 7 tattoos and 3 piercings

Liam: I have 3 piercings, too

Sonia: 1. I was a huge marching band nerd in high school. Loved it. Miss it sometimes. Can't manage to play clarinet anymore, though. There is no musculature support. DAMN YOU ORBICULARIS ORIS. Is that right? whatever.

Nikki: hmm let's see: I ran a marathon once.. very slowly; I played competitive tennis until age 15; I wanted to be a rap artist for a short time growing up.. :)

Liam: NIKKI BE IN OUR QUEER BAND. Sonia and I are starting it up.

Nikki: yesssss every queer band needs a rapper

Sonia: 2. I have zero tattoos and zero piercings. Though I have a huge scar on my leg, from when I had osteomyelitis as a 4 year old. Pretty sure they had some trembling med student suture me up, cause this scar is terrifyingly ugly. When I was small I was just excited I had a caterpillar on my leg. Now when I look at it I think: The conversation must have gone like so: "Oh my goodness, what do I do? My suturing is totally off" "It's ok. Just take a big bite here. But a small bite here."

Liam: Um...let's see...I fenced epee for some years.

Audrey: i played the saxophone in high school

Sonia: 3. I once tried to learn to beat box. I failed.

Liam: 3. I will teach Sonia how to beatbox at SAVMA symposium

Sonia: 4. THIS IS TRULY NEEDED LIAM. I took saber fencing in college, but then the TA jabbed me in the throat before a choir concert. It was not forgiven.

Audrey: i LOVE to dance

Liam: 4. I once went to Latin Nationals ... as in a national competition... for Latin students...

Sonia: 5. I can't dance to save my life. I literally would rather stand against the wall knowing how awkward it is. Self reflection when everyone else is dancing wildly is always. Awkward.

Liam: 5. It is now my life goal to get Sonia drunk enough at SAVMA to get her to dance. Perfecting puppy dog face right now.

Audrey: YEAHHHHHHHHHHH Sonia will dance!! Like a gazelle!!!!!!!!!!!


Liam: 6. Whenever I hear someone telling me 'no' I take it as a challenge to show them just how wrong they are

Sonia: Also maybe we can have our professional bios up top. And then our casual interview down on the bottom. Kind of like an interview mullet.

Liam: I used to be able to quote The Princess Bride in its entirety. I have seen Buffy at least 10 times all the way through, and I once presented at a conference on the sociolinguistics of Firefly with a paper entitled "It don't mean nothing out here in the white: Why Language DOES matter onboard Serenity" that analyzed everything from Simon's way-too-proper language as a means to cling to his identity to why Chinese characters were the predominant communication with the general public even though people mostly spoke English.

Nikki: hahah i missed so much! gahh i'm closing the library and headed home (Note: Nikki is possibly the only one of us to have gotten any studying done this evening. Applause.  If anyone has questions about GI Pathology...look to Nikki)

Liam: Do you trust us?

Nikki: haha yes i trust you - however crazy that may seem

Sonia: aw, this is like in aladdin. ok everyone! good interview. GOOD INTERVIEW. Professionals, start lining up. *note to professionals: we will actually have professional questions for you. keep your youtube quotes to yourself* (Most links to youtube videos discussed during this interview have been removed. But think Honey Badger-level hilarity based on their context.)

Sonia: I keep looking for where I can like people's things, and then I realize we're already talking to each other. THESE ARE THE DRAWBACKS TO FACEBOOK.

Liam: I love Broad Spectrum.

Nikki: oh wait one more thing.. it's really important

Aren’t you glad you know us better.

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