Please tell us about yourself

Sanjay Dick got an early start on his veterinary medicine career with a Fisher-Price stethoscope and a bevy of stuffed animals as patients. And now, Dick, who graduates from Eastern Mennonite University’s MA in Biomedicine program April 30, will be the first in the program to attend veterinary school.

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The Lancaster, Pa. native has been accepted into Virginia Tech’s Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program in Blacksburg, Virginia. Many graduates of the MA in Biomedicine program intent on further professional studies go on to careers in human medicine, from osteopathy to physician’s assistant or physical therapy programs.

Dick, however, came into the program to prepare himself for the elite selection process. “My professors worked with me,” Dick said. “It was a learning experience, and having someone to support you goes a long way.”

He was among 1600 applicants for one seat out of 120 at Virginia Tech.

“I think what stood out about me was my experience in veterinary clinics, starting in 10th grade,” Dick said.

How did you end up in such an offbeat, unconventional and unusual career?

He began his practical experience with an after-school job at a local vet clinic, walking dogs and progressing to drawing blood.

“I wanted to help people and animals, and I felt strongly about the human-animal bond,” Dick said. “I wanted to help maintain the bond as a means to helping humans and animals.”

What did you study?

Later, he graduated from EMU (Eastern Mennonite University)with a bachelor’s degree in psychology in 2011. But the tug of animals was still strong.

“I came back to EMU because I love the atmosphere, the student-professor ratio, and the ability to feel comfortable asking questions,” Dick said. “I’d heard good things about the program, and I started back when Dr. Roman Miller [professor emeritus] was still here.”

He also credits EMU’s emphasis on servant leadership. “You are in a leadership position, but serving others, you are putting others before yourself,” Dick said.

Since 2013, the MA in Biomedicine program has prepared 27 graduates for careers as health professionals.“The EMU biomedical program challenges you to think about ethical situations,” Dick said. “There are two seminars on developing yourself as a leader, which helped me professionally when I went out into clinics.”

Tell us about your work

His required independent research project was on kidney disease in cats. His thesis compared how treatment varies between rural and urban animal clinics in southeastern Pennsylvania.

“It’s a common diagnosis for older cats, and is a complex disease,” Dick said. “It’s diagnosed sooner in urban settings, where pet owners more commonly have access to vets. And, they take a more conservative approach to treatment, such as a focus on diets.”

The research project brings students together with faculty advisors and community mentors to develop and conduct original research.

“One of the strengths of EMU’s biomedicine program is our versatility in successfully equipping students to pursue medicine in a variety of fields,” said Dr. Carolyn Stauffer, program co-director. “His acceptance at Virginia Tech marks a significant milestone for us. We are immensely proud of Sanjay’s accomplishments as well as its significance for our expanding program.”

What are your future plans?

Dick plans to specialize in small animal internal medicine at Virginia Tech. The four-year program is three years of classroom study, and one year of rotation, with the final step an internship and residency after graduation.

“I feel lucky pursuing a career I feel passionate about,” he said.