Jarra Jagne D.V.M. ’90 wins Excellence in Mentorship award

Jarra Jagne, D.V.M. ’90, senior extension associate at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, received the Excellence in Mentorship Award from the American Association of Avian Pathologists (AAAP) in recognition of her dedication to the poultry industry and mentorship of students and fellow colleagues.

“I was surprised and thrilled to receive a mentorship award from an organization that has so many deserving mentors,” says Jagne. “It is indeed an honor.”

Jagne has more than 25 years of experience working in poultry pathology, health and production management; emergency preparedness and response; public health; applied research; and project management. Jagne has mentored students in different phases of career development and helped to create a poultry rotation at Cornell in conjunction with the pathology section.

“Dr. Jagne inspired me through all she has done and continues to do in her career, and the impact she has had in poultry medicine both in the United States and around the world,” says former student Hailey Quercia, D.V.M. ’19, an avian pathology clinical fellow at Auburn University. “She always was able to provide the same level of support, whether to someone with a single pet hen or someone with thousands of birds. Her example is something I strive toward.”       

Jagne worked seven years for a major international poultry breeding company and as senior veterinary advisor for a three-year USAID-funded avian influenza project. In that role, she managed veterinary and integrated human health technical activities, including training and technical assistance programs in West, East, Central and Southern Africa, Eastern Europe, and Southeast and Central Asia. Since 2011, she has been part of the Veterinary Support Services team of the Animal Health Diagnostic Center at the College of Veterinary Medicine.

Jarra Jagne
Jarra Jagne D.V.M. ’90. Photo: CVM

Although her position originally did not have teaching requirements, that did not prevent Jagne from developing an extensive teaching program in poultry medicine for veterinary students and serving as a guest lecturer in many classes in the veterinary curriculum. She also mentors undergraduate students interested in veterinary medicine, speaks at continuing education programs and works with Cornell Cooperative Extension county educators to share poultry knowledge to New York state backyard poultry owners.

“I believe mentoring is all about sharing my life experiences including successes and failures,” says Jagne. “I help students develop and think about their options not only in the poultry field but in other fields of veterinary medicine. I had wonderful advisors during my academic and professional careers who laid the foundation for my mentoring skills. My role is to listen, show patience and to be non-judgmental. I also learn a lot from the students and that is the ultimate joy of mentoring.”

Jagne’s former students can attest to her dedication and wisdom as a mentor. Emma Castillo, D.V.M. ’19, now an associate veterinarian at Aviagen, a poultry breeding company, switched her veterinary focus from conservation to poultry medicine in her second year of veterinary school. “In the poultry industry, this is considered very late,” Castillo says. “Dr. Jagne guided me through the process of building my base knowledge, networking and ensuring I was prepared to enter the industry as soon as I graduated. I was exceptionally prepared and it was all thanks to her.”

“Without her guidance and encouragement, I would never have ended up in my current field or my current position,” says Quercia. “She will always have my gratitude for that, and I know I am only one of many veterinarians who owe the same to her.”

Beyond bestowing knowledge of the poultry field, Jagne provides support and connection for students. “Dr. Jagne’s office was never just a place to find career guidance. Our meetings were also full of laughter and storytelling. She would share stories of her young career and life lessons… I would visit frequently, joking that I lived in her office,” says Castillo. “She's not just an educator, she's family. I know I can always go to her for advice, regardless of what it is.”

Jagne was presented with the Excellence in Mentorship Award at the all-virtual 2021 annual AAAP meeting, which was held July 30 – August 2, 2021.

Written by Lauren Cahoon Roberts