Olivia Walker is One of Four Veterinary Students in the Nation to Receive $10,000 Scholarship from the Theriogenology Foundation

Olivia Walker (left) and Dr. Carleigh Fedorka (right) at the University of Kentucky Maxwell H. Gluck Equine Research Center

Caption: Olivia Walker (left) and Dr. Carleigh Fedorka (right) at the University of Kentucky Maxwell H. Gluck Equine Research Center

Olivia Walker, a fourth-year veterinary medicine student at Lincoln Memorial University-College of Veterinary Medicine (LMU-CVM) is one of four students from across the nation selected for the inaugural Nandi Scholars Program with the Theriogenology Foundation. This scholarship recognizes and rewards final year veterinary students who have demonstrated superior potential for future clinical and scholarly excellence and leadership in Theriogenology. Walker will be recognized and awarded $10,000 at the 2021 Theriogenology Annual Conference in Omaha, Nebraska, on July 23, 2021.

“Receiving this scholarship in its inaugural year means the world to me. It proves that hard work, determination, and sound research can be rewarded and recognized. Having my name on published articles was enough of an honor, so to receive this recognition from such a prestigious organization leaves me speechless,” Walker said. “I couldn't have done it without the support and guidance of my mentor, friends and family. I feel so hopeful and excited for what my future holds, especially after receiving this award.”

Olivia Walker

Walker had dreams of become a veterinarian from a very young age.

“Growing up in the suburbs of Nashville, Tennessee, surrounded by fields of lush green pastures with grazing horses and cattle, it felt inevitable that I would gravitate toward a career with animals,” Walker said.

During her undergraduate studies at Colorado State University and The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Walker developed an interest in animal reproduction and theriogenology. Following her undergraduate studies, she applied and was accepted into LMU-CVM’s Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program.

At LMU-CVM, Walker has conducted research, held several leadership positions and attended veterinary conferences to expand her knowledge of theriogenology. Walker has spent her summers working with researchers and theriogenologists in the reproduction department at the University of Kentucky Maxwell H. Gluck Equine Research Center in Lexington, Kentucky.

Her first summer was spent alongside Dr. Barry Ball and Dr. Carleigh Fedorka researching the effects that synthetic progestin, altrenogest, has on the mare’s immune system. Her second summer involved studying how the administration of intravenous IgG alters the mare’s production of immune modulating cells and highlighted the ability of intravenous IgG to decrease the chance of late-term abortions caused by either ascending or nocardioform placentitis.

“Spending my summers both in the lab and field, conducting research with giants of the industry was equally humbling and inspiring,” Walker said. “It built self-confidence and ignited a spark to take on new positions and acquire more responsibilities within my college.”

Walker has served on the executive board for multiple clubs including the student chapter of the Society for Theriogenology. She has been the co-author five research publications. She held the position of parturition and palpation coordinator, in which she coordinated with local dairy and sheep farmers to allow students to participate in palpation tutorials and assist with live births. She was a member of the LMU Palpation Team and competed in the Student American Veterinary Medical Association (SAVMA) Symposium palpation competition held at the University of Georgia in 2019. During her third year at LMU-CVM she served as the captain of the palpation team, organizing lectures, practices and mock-exams to prepare the team for the 2020 SAVMA Symposium competition scheduled to be held at Cornell University. Unfortunately, the symposium was canceled due to the outbreak of COVID-19.

“Olivia has made a positive impact on LMU-CVM as a student leader. I am thrilled that her hard work and dedication to animal reproduction has been honored by this prestigious award,” said LMU-CVM Dean Stacy Anderson.

While the pandemic turned the world upside-down, Walker took the leadership skills she had developed during her summer internships and continued her studies in clinical rotations. Walker will graduate with her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree on May 22, 2021 and will begin working at a small animal emergency clinic beginning in July.

“These skills and experiences will be carried with me as I enter the world as a practicing clinician with a strong focus in theriogenology, I’ve long dreamt of practicing as a mixed animal clinician in rural America and providing excellent evidence-based medicine to both household pets and various species of livestock within small tight-knit communities. Alternatively, I have a strong interest in research and aspirations of pursuing a career in academia.” Walker said. “Regardless of the route I choose, theriogenology will continue to play a major role in my future.”

Lincoln Memorial University (LMU) is a values-based learning community dedicated to providing educational experiences in the liberal arts and professional studies. The LMU-College of Veterinary Medicine is located on LMU’s main campus in Harrogate, Tennessee, with additional academic facilities in nearby Lee County, Virginia. LMU-CVM is an integral part of the University’s medical programs and provides real-world, community-based education in a collaborative learning environment. For more information about LMU-CVM, call 1.800.325.0900, ext. 6600 or visit us online at vetmed.LMUnet.edu.

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