Dean's Leaders Program

Dean's Leaders Program graphicOverview

The Dean’s Leader Program, sponsored by the Office of Inclusion and Academic Excellence, is designed to advance the College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM)’s and the veterinary profession’s commitment to access, equity, representation and inclusion. It is also designed to enhance the diversity of Cornell’s D.V.M. student population, enriching and enhancing academic readiness and professional success. The program enhances student success and confidence through academic readiness, leadership skills and professional competence. This will be accomplished through community-building, well-being support and mentorship, along with academic, professional and leadership development. 

The Dean’s Leaders Program is part of a suite of training programs available for D.V.M. students at the College of Veterinary Medicine. These programs support varied career interests, promote diversity and foster future career success. Each program has its own application and selection process. Examples include the following:


The Dean’s Leader’s Program is available on a competitive basis to D.V.M. students who have applied for and been offered Fall admission to CVM. They must be U.S. citizens, U.S. permanent residents, or students holding DACA, TPS, refugee, or asylee status. In addition, one or more of the following criteria must apply:

  • First-generation college graduate (neither parent/guardian has completed a baccalaureate degree)
  • Member of ethnic and/or racial groups historically excluded from and underrepresented in veterinary education: Black, Indigenous (Native American, Alaskan Native, Native Hawaiian, Native Pacific Islanders, other Indigenous peoples), Hispanic/Latina/o/x, and/or Southeast Asian
  • Other identities and/or experiences historically underrepresented and/or marginalized within veterinary education include but are not limited to the following: 
    • Those who manage a disability
    • Having a gender and/or sexual orientation identity historically underrepresented in veterinary medicine 
    • Those who identify as a military veteran
    • Those who have experienced disadvantages in education, housing, and/or food security
  • Single parents (children of, or student is a single parent)

How to Apply

Students who wish to be considered for the Dean’s Leader program must submit a short statement of interest to address: how their personal background and experiences influenced their decision to pursue a D.V.M. degree, and how one or more of the identities (above) and/or experiences apply to them.

In addition, students are asked to provide insight on their potential to contribute to a community of inclusion, belonging and respect where Dean’s Leaders representing diverse backgrounds, perspectives, abilities and experiences can learn and work productively and positively together to transform the veterinary profession.The template for the statement of interest will be included in materials sent to students who have been offered Fall admission.


Students admitted to the Dean’s Leaders Program will be recognized as CVM Dean’s Leaders and will be invited to participate in community, academic, leadership and professional activities specific to this program sponsored by the Office of Inclusion and Academic excellence and its partners.

Participation in the Deans Leaders Program will not prevent students from taking advantage of other programs, but coordination will be needed in some situations (e.g., summer research opportunities). 

The Dean’s Leader Program provides a cohort of D.V.M. students with various comprehensive, supportive, enriching and transformative personal and professional experiences. Cohort selection will be based on a holistic review of applicants' D.V.M application materials and supplemental statement and timely receipt of materials by the Dean’s Leaders team. Selected students’ systems appointment dates will begin the first week of June each year.

Dean’s Leaders members are required to begin participation in the on-campus program the summer before their first fall semester, continuing through their graduation from the D.V.M. program. The deadline for Dean’s Leaders program participation commitment is April 19th.   

Summer 2023 Programming




Overview, Community Building & Setting Expectations


DVM Curriculum Module Overview I


DVM Curriculum Module Overview II


Leadership & Career Development


Research & Faculty Shadowing


Creative Problem Solving & Capstone Preparation


Clinical Shadowing & Capstone Practice


Summer Symposium and DLP Certificate Ceremony


Transition to Independent Housing

The Student Experience

Daily activities:

Practical preparation for the CVM curriculum, including:

  • Academic and extracurricular engagement opportunities with CVM leadership, faculty, and staff
  • Problem-based learning skills
  • Tutor group cases
  • Test-taking techniques
  • Lab shadowing

Training in well-being and life skills, such as:

  • Stress management
  • Communication
  • Mindfulness

Tours, meetings and workshops including:

  • Cornell University Hospital for Animals (CUHA)
  • Teaching Dairy Barn
  • Animal Health Diagnostic Center (AHDC)
  • Lab of Ornithology
  • The Janet L. Swanson Wildlife Hospital
  • Various departments within CVM/CUHA

Fun, engaging and community building activities like:

  • Tie-dye
  • Team Scavenger Hunt in collaboration with the Cornell Team & Leadership Center (CTLC)
  • Bowling
  • Rock climbing in collaboration with Cornell Outdoor Education (COE)


Campus housing for the full duration of the program is provided to Dean's Leaders Program participants at no cost to the student.


We purchase TCAT bus passes for students to allow ease of travel on and off campus, upon request. Those with vehicles will be allowed to park in a designated parking lot free of charge (as space allows, for the duration of the Summer Program).

Summer Job Guidelines:

Participants in the Dean's Leaders Program (DLP) are expected to fully participate in all required programming for the duration of the 8-week summer program. This programming is created ahead of time and remains subject to change based on a series of factors (which include but are not limited to: changes in weather, faculty/staff availability, and extenuating circumstances). Programming times range, yet our goal is to have students participate in programming from 9am to 2pm/3pm Monday through Friday. 

Students are welcome to seek employment on or off campus over the summer with the understanding that their jobs will not conflict with the program obligations, which include in-person participation and assignments to be completed outside of the classroom. Should a student's employment conflict with DLP resulting in four (4) or more absences without notice or extenuating circumstances, they risk losing their summer stipend.

Capstone Project:

The summer culminates in a Summer Symposium where participants present their posters to an audience of peers and mentors showcasing:

  • Background and lived experience
  • Academic interests
  • Academic success plan
  • Keys to success

Questions? Contact us!: 

Student Testimonials

“The experience was wonderful. I would do it over again one hundred percent…I have never felt so heard and seen by an administration in my life.”Ashley Stroud, D.V.M. ’26

“Dr. Ragin and her team have been incredibly supportive and have proven to be invested in our success as a group and as individuals… They have spent a lot of time listening and being responsive to our needs before we even started classes as prospective students and now as students in the thick of classwork… I hope that people are encouraged to apply to Cornell Vet and are not discouraged for fear of not seeing anyone who looks like them. I believe Cornell Vet is trying very hard to make anyone and everyone welcome to study here, and I hope that initiative continues and the message of inclusion and commitment to diversity spreads and propagates for everyone to know.”Rebecca Jaramillo, D.V.M.’26

 “The program has allowed me to smoothly transition into a new setting and build a community with mentors and students…Throughout the summer months, there were several lectures on how to study, well-being, and personal growth. Every aspect of the program has thus far contributed to my time in veterinary school. Without the exposure I have received throughout my time in the Dean’s Leaders program, the transition to the pace of veterinary school would have been much more difficult.”Joshua Farris, D.V.M,’26

Dean's Leaders Program participants, Induction Ceremony, summer 2023. Photo: Darcy Rose/CVM
Dean's Leaders Program participants, Certificate Ceremony, summer 2022. Photo: Carol Jennings/CVM