May 15, 2013


 ‘Southern girl’ takes on SAVMA presidency

Posted May 1, 2013 

Elise Ackley gives her first address to the SAVMA House of Delegates after being installed as SAVMA president. (Photo by Chase Crawford​)

Student AVMA President Elise Ackley, a third-year veterinary student at Louisiana State University, calls herself a “true Southern girl.”

She has spent most of her life in the Bayou State, growing up in Shreveport, La., and moving to Baton Rouge four years ago. 

Initially, Ackley considered going to medical school, but decided in her sophomore year at Millsaps College in Jackson, Miss., to become a veterinarian. She transferred to LSU her junior year and applied to veterinary school “for practice.”

“I didn’t think I’d get in, but somehow I did after my third year of undergrad,” she said.

Ackley is pursuing a government and corporate practice track. She aims to apply this fall for the AVMA Congressional Science Fellowship Program, which allows veterinarians to serve for one year in Washington, D.C., as scientific advisers to members of Congress. 

This past summer, Ackley interned at the AVMA Govern­mental Relations Division, and this spring, she completed an internship with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s office.

“I would love to work on agricultural policy once I graduate. That’s my passion; that’s where I’m happiest. I want to work on bigger-picture things for the profession, working on things like the Farm Bill and compounding issues,” Ackley said.

She says her interest in politics and government came about early, thanks to her politically charged family. Her dad is a “staunch Republican” and her mom a “raging liberal.”

“One candidate’s sign would be in the yard, and the next day it’d be missing and a new candidate’s sign would be out there. We always would have good political conversations around the dinner table,” she said.

As SAVMA president, Ackley plans to follow previous presidents’ lead in increasing public awareness of SAVMA’s goals and mission to convey the student voice at the AVMA and national public level.

She also wants to encourage students to start formal relationships with their state VMAs and work to create a student seat on their boards.

“That way, they hear student issues directly, and they’ll have a more direct line advocacy-wise to better understand all the issues happening at the student level,” Ackley said.