Christine Hardy (D.V.M. ‘07, M.B.A. ‘05), the former director of operations for the Flint Animal Cancer Center, took on a new role at the College this summer as the senior director for Professional Veterinary Medicine Student Services.
You graduated in the first combined M.B.A./D.V.M. class at CSU. What prompted you to pursue those degrees?
I was the last one to get the memo that becoming a veterinarian was the right path for me. I planned on attending medical school, until family illnesses delayed my application process. I earned a Master of Public Health in human nutrition at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and began working in a clinical setting before moving to Fort Collins for my husband to attend graduate school at CSU. He encouraged me to look into vet school, in part because I had grown up working with horses and also because it was a great combination of medicine and animals – two passions of mine. I resisted because I actually thought the emotional part of advocating for a being that can’t speak for itself would just be too challenging. I know that sounds strange, but I was very familiar with human medicine and that seemed less daunting. So, I set out to prove my husband wrong by volunteering at the Wellington Veterinary Clinic, and you know what happened? It was like the clouds parted and the sun shone down. Dr. Tracey Jensen (D.V.M. ‘96) practiced excellent medicine, ran a great business, and was a pillar in the community – and still is. She embodied what veterinary medicine can be, and that was what I wanted to do. Tracey encouraged me to also pursue the M.B.A. to help with the big learning curve of running a business.
Was it as helpful as you hoped?
Absolutely. The M.B.A. is a degree in problem-solving and it’s applicable in every facet of veterinary medicine. We learned to analyze an opportunity or challenge and develop solutions while working in teams. It was well worth it; I use these skills everyday.
You served as the director of operations at CSU’s Flint Animal Cancer Center for five years. Was that a rewarding experience?
Absolutely. I still get to help with smaller projects for the center. I am privileged to work in an organization with a mission that I truly believed in. As the sibling of a cancer survivor, I value translational research and what can be accomplished by thinking big. The FACC is a wonderful lesson in entrepreneurship. It started with Dr. Stephen Withrow and a part-time nurse, and has grown to a hundred people all dedicated to cancer research, teaching, service, and outreach. During his surgical residency Dr. Withrow did an out-rotation at a human hospital and recognized what he saw in people with cancer was very similar to what he saw in animals. By applying human treatments to the canine model, he learned that dogs are also a great way to study the human model. That cycle of realizations has created a visionary program and service. That vision continues on today under the leadership of Dr. Rod Page, the current director, and the FACC continues to be the world leader in veterinary oncology care and translational research—not to mention the specialty training programs in oncology.
What are your goals in your new position as the senior director for PVM Student Services?
My main goals are to help others be successful and to further build the value of the CSU D.V.M.
First, we bring together the students best suited for a veterinary education with CSU through our admissions and recruitment program.
Second, we can help our graduates be successful in the program and beyond by advancing our efforts in student affairs, career development, and personal finance education. Our students face major challenges due to the gap between educational debt and starting salaries as well as a tighter job market. I believe we can help our graduates better realize the value of their CSU D.V.M. by improving their personal finance acumen, committing to a four-year tuition cost, exposing students to the many options within the profession, helping them to develop their critical career skills throughout veterinary school to better market themselves, and helping them to develop life skills to balance the growing demands of their careers with their personal lives.
I envision developing a multi-year online curriculum in personal finance for our students and alumni that will cover everything from financing veterinary education to investments including practice ownership and planning for retirement. I also hope to open a career center that will help students and alumni network, apply for jobs, and even prepare for career changes that are common in the profession.
Additionally, holding tuition in check and expanding scholarships are important goals.