Accessibility & Inclusivity

Veterinary medicine remains one of the least diverse professions in the United States.

By Gregory Scott, DVM, DACZM, Sr. Associate Veterinarian at Georgia Aquarium

My journey to veterinary medicine was not an easy or straight path.

I have wanted to work with animals for as long as I can remember. Although I did not always want to be a veterinarian. As a young kid, I was interested in becoming a zookeeper. However, when telling people you love animals, the most common response is, “You should be a veterinarian!”. I heard this comment so often I internalized it despite having doubts about whether this career was right for me. At the time, I thought vets cared for dogs and cats and wasn’t sure that’s what I wanted to do. I was more interested in working with exotic animals or in a zoo setting. I struggled with deciding to become a veterinarian even through the start of college.

Upon starting college, it was the first time I truly dove into what it would take to become a veterinarian. It became clear that I would need to work incredibly hard and devote a lot of time. I still had not yet realized becoming a zoological veterinarian was possible and questioned whether the requirements would be worth it for a career I was so uncertain about. Ultimately, I decided to pursue an alternative major. Eventually, after a few years of unsuccessfully trying to navigate a different career path, I came back to the idea of becoming a veterinarian.

This time, I researched to see if there was a space in this field where I could see myself. I started by looking into veterinarians’ work in zoo settings – where my passion originated. While learning more about a zoological veterinary career, the light bulb went off. It was the closest experience to a “eureka moment” when I realized this was the perfect career for me.

As I began my journey at North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine, I became even more exposed to veterinarians’ various roles and specialties – including aquatic animals. I was lucky enough to learn from some experienced professors who specialized in aquatic animal medicine. I was very open to learning about how to care for a vast variety of creatures. Steadily, I gained more exposure to the aquatic side of veterinary medicine and continued down that path. Eventually, this led me to Georgia Aquarium.

Navigating the lack of diversity. 

I believe a crucial element is exposing students to diversity in this field at a young age. As a minority, having visual role models in your career is essential. I was lucky enough to have a mentor who was a Black veterinarian from the time I was in elementary school. My mom knew the extraneous factors that could potentially chip away at my self-belief. She proactively provided me with ways to pursue my passions, ensuring those factors did not deter my aspirations.

Unfortunately, not all students of a minority have that support or experience. Programs like Auburn University’s Veterinary Intensive Program are crucial in shifting the trajectory of diversity in the field of veterinary sciences. The goal is to capture students at a young age, expose them to this career, and support them in their journey. We hope this demonstrates to aspiring veterinarians that, though they may not see people representing their demographic in the field, they can succeed in this career. I truly believe this experience is essential in demonstrating the ability for all to thrive and succeed in this career. As a representative of diversity, I want to inspire young veterinarians and open their minds to the possible avenues.

My hopes for the future of veterinary medicine.

While continuing to reach out to young minorities for mentorship will always be necessary. Hopefully, speaking about veterinary medicine in this context will not be. Everyone should have simple access to animal health as a service to the public, the environment, and for conservation. One great way to help accomplish this is by having ample representation of various demographics in the field as service providers. Because of the variety of backgrounds and life experiences we all have, diversity increases the number of people we can reach. My job is to contextualize the message for different people to understand and connect with.

Practicing veterinary medicine at the Aquarium offers a fun and unique opportunity to work with some amazing animals – it’s hard not to be inspired being in their presence. But veterinary medicine is just one of many pieces of a larger machine that helps the Aquarium accomplish its mission. The importance of spreading awareness of our ocean’s health increases each year. All of us working at Georgia Aquarium have an opportunity to inspire ideas and actions that can make a real difference in the world. We get the incredible opportunity to touch not only a lot of animals’ lives but also people’s. I hope to share this message with future generations and inspire them to follow their passions and overcome any visible or invisible barriers.


Georgia Aquarium is a leading 501(c)(3) non-profit organization located in Atlanta, Ga. that is Humane Certified by American Humane and accredited by the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Georgia Aquarium is committed to working on behalf of all marine life through education, preservation, exceptional animal care, and research across the globe. Georgia Aquarium continues its mission each day to inspire, educate, and entertain its millions of guests about the aquatic biodiversity throughout the world through its engaging exhibits and tens of thousands of animals across its eight major galleries.

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