SAVMA president keeping her options open

Kyre Larrabee has a knack for connecting with others, leadership
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Ms. Larrabee
Kyre Larrabee

Kyre Larrabee learned at an early age about the importance of caring for animals. Having grown up on a cow-calf operation in southwestern Kansas and lived with a veritable menagerie of animals, including chickens and potbellied pigs, Larrabee says she can't recall a time when she didn't know what she wanted to be.

"I guess you can call me an early identifier because I've always wanted to be a veterinarian. I asked my mom the other day if I ever wanted to be anything else, and she said no," Larrabee said sheepishly.

"Maybe that makes me boring, but that's always what I've wanted to do," added Larrabee, who is finishing up her third year at Oklahoma State University Center for Veterinary Health Sciences.

Another word that comes to mind is driven.

Larrabee was installed as Student AVMA president during the annual SAVMA Symposium on March 10 in Athens, Georgia. As SAVMA president, she will spend the coming year attending meetings of the AVMA Board of Directors and AVMA House of Delegates as the SAVMA representative.

While an undergraduate student at Oklahoma State, Larrabee took every opportunity to make herself the ideal candidate for veterinary school, participating in extracurricular activities in various areas of animal science. "One of the best pieces of advice I got was from a professor who told me to keep my blinders off. I kept active in areas of animal agriculture, especially in research, in case I wasn't able to get into veterinary school," she said.

As a first-year veterinary student, Larrabee told herself she would focus more on her studies and cut back on all the rest. She couldn't help herself, however. On a whim, Larrabee ran for and was elected junior representative for Oklahoma State in the SAVMA House of Delegates.

It was during the 2017 SAVMA Symposium, hosted that year by Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, when Larrabee fully understood the value of SAVMA. "I was introduced to this whole other world with all these people who loved veterinary medicine. I just knew I had to be part of something bigger than myself," she said.

Larrabee aspired to serve on the SAVMA Executive Board but lacked the confidence to run. Dr. Jeff Olivarez, SAVMA president at the time, gave his fellow Oklahoma State student the push she needed.

"I encouraged Kyre to run because I saw how she interacted with her classmates," Dr. Olivarez said. "This will come as a shocker to no one, but veterinary school is a very high-stress environment. Most people easily get caught up in that deluge, but Kyre didn't. She handled everything with dignity and grace.

"People turned to her, without any prompting, seeking guidance. She has that innate leadership style that just attracts people."

Larrabee wants to use her platform as SAVMA president to raise one-health awareness in the human medical profession by collaborating with student members of the American Medical Association. She also wants SAVMA to continue representing the interests of veterinary colleges and veterinary students as well as remain a resource for students with financial or mental health struggles.

As for Larrabee's career plans after graduation, she's keeping her options open and the blinders off. Whatever the future holds, Larrabee expects she won't wander far from her rural roots.

"There's a good chance that one day you'll find me working on horses and cattle," she said with a laugh.