Kalia Pinkston, D.V.M., Brings a World of Knowledge & Experience to Career
To say that Kalia Pinkston (B.A. in International Studies-Latin American ’13, Pre-Veterinary classes ’16-’18 and D.V.M. from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland ’22) is a seasoned international traveler would be an understatement. To date, Pinkston has lived in and/or traveled to 18 countries and that number is sure to grow.
Born in Saudi Arabia, Pinkston spent her early childhood at a U.S. compound where her parents taught classes to a multicultural community.
“My best friend was from Ethiopia and I had friends from all over the world,” said Pinkston. “It was a very tight knit community. I remember one of the neatest things I got to do was visit the Rub’ al Khali or Empty Quarter desert. Thousands of years ago, parts of the desert were covered with fresh water, so there were lots of artifacts like fossils and arrowheads scattered around the dunes.”
Pinkston’s parents moved back to the U.S. in 2001 to work at IU Southeast when she was nine. Fast forward to graduating Silver Creek High School, Pinkston was unsure about her career path.
A Round- About Journey to Veterinary School
Pinkston initially gravitated to International Studies and studied abroad in Ecuador while earning her first degree from IU Southeast in 2013. She then traveled overseas and lived in Thailand teaching English. Her next stop was a stint in New Zealand. She returned to Southern Indiana in 2016.
“I found myself at a little bit of a crossroads,” said Pinkston. “I thought, well I could try to get an entry level government job or try to do something that I’ve always wanted to do but was too scared to do in the past. So, I just decided to give it a go and start pre-veterinary classes.”
Pinkston noted that she was apprehensive about science and math classes but once she started, she found support at IU Southeast.
“IU Southeast has fantastic professors, like Dr. Omar Attum and Susan Reigler, who really made a difference for me,” said Pinkston. “Professor Reigler took me under her wing and she tutored me and she provided a lot of motivation. It felt like I was being welcomed into this community. And even if I had challenges, they didn't feel insurmountable because there were people that had my back.”
Pinkston made the most of her second time around at IU Southeast. She worked with Reigler on research investigating population genetics and natural selection in moths. She also assisted Dr. Attum on research categorizing data from Wadi Rum in Jordan.
One of Pinkston favorite classes was a Field Biology course trip to Namibia in southwestern Africa to study the ecology of the Namib desert.
Kalia Pinkston conducting a lambing work study during vet school at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.
Kalia Pinkston in Susan Reigler's office sorting through and pinning moths.
Next Up - Scotland
When it came time to choose where she would study veterinary medicine, Pinkston was drawn to the world-renowned and prestigious University of Edinburgh’s Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies. The campus features a sheep farm and a partner dairy farm for practical hands-on learning. In addition, work study is a staple of the curriculum. Pinkston lived and worked on family farms which included assisting with lambing season in England, milking dairy cows, working on a pig farm on the Isle of Man and working on a chicken and egg farm in Scotland.
"You got a tiny, two to three week glimpse into the different livelihoods and you really got to know the families running these farms,” said Pinkston. “I enjoyed learning the different aspects of all the farms, but watching all the little lambs running around during lambing season was certainly a highlight, as you might expect.”
Kalia Pinkston and her friend, Wade Lahue on a sand dune.
Kalia Pinkston during her recent travels.
IU Southeast Support Lasts a Lifetime
Pinkston received her D.V.M. in 2022 and was promptly hired in August at The Downtown Animal Hospital in Louisville. She primarily focuses on companion animals like dogs and cats and has plans to expand to exotic animal care.
“Every animal comes with at least one other human attached to it and you have to know how to work with the humans just as well as you work with the animals,” said Pinkston. “Witnessing a strong human-animal bond with a client that trusts you and accepts you as a team member in caring for their pet is really one of the best parts of being a veterinarian.”
Pinkston continues to enjoy the lifelong support and relationships she developed at IU Southeast.
“For instance, I am currently living in Professor Reigler’s cottage while I get settled in,” said Pinkston. “These relationships I have are completely priceless and I am grateful for all the opportunities they have given me. If I had one piece of advice to give to current students it would be to give it a go. Don’t be afraid to reach out and explore things you are curious about.”
Dr. David Taylor (green hat) and co-owner Beth Taylor (red hat) supervise students Reese Adams (white hoodie) and Kaitlin Malone (blue hoodie) while they draw blood to perform a pregnancy test on a dairy goat.
IU Southeast Launches New Pre-Veterinary Club
Two eager pre-veterinary students, Emma Payne and Reese Adams, took the initiative last semester to approach Suparna Mukhopadhyay, Ph.D., biology lecturer, pre-veterinary advisor, and curator of the zoological collection at IU Southeast, to ask her to become the faculty mentor for a new Pre-Veterinary Club at IU Southeast.
Dr. “M”, as she is affectionately known throughout campus, has a full slate of responsibilities but was impressed by the students’ desire to establish a Pre-Veterinary Club on campus. This new club provides students pursuing a career in veterinary medicine with the opportunities to get more practical experiences and exposure to the profession through farm visits, conferences, and networking/shadowing events. Dr. M started marshalling her resources to aid the students and the first Pre-Veterinary Club meeting was held on October 11, 2022.
“It is very competitive to get into veterinary school,” said Dr. M. “It takes more than a good GPA. Any practical experience you can add to enrich your curriculum vitae (CV) will be beneficial.”
The club’s first field trip was to Sirocco Ridge Farm owned by David Taylor, Ph.D. and biology professor and curator of herbarium at IU Southeast. Students performed pregnancy tests on goats by sterile blood draw. The club will be attending the American Pre-Veterinary Medical Association Symposium held this spring in Louisville, KY. Also, this spring, Dr. M is taking the club to the Louisville Zoo along with the students of her Vertebrate Zoology course, with the help of the excursion grant she secured from IU Southeast.
Future plans include:
- Field trips to other livestock and equine farms, Raptor Rescue, Louisville Zoo, local animal shelters, Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge
- Inviting guest speakers from veterinary clinics (large and small animal, equine, exotic, etc.)
- Conducting community service projects with local animal shelters
- Practicing sutures with bananas
- Preparing for the veterinary college application process
- Reviewing Journal of Veterinary Medicine case studies
If you would like to volunteer to speak or offer support to the Pre-Veterinary Club, please contact Dr. M at email@example.com.
Sirocco Ridge Farm co-owner Beth Taylor (red hat) supervises students Emma Payne (black hoodie) and Lilly Mills (pink hoodie) while they draw blood to perform a pregnancy test on a dairy goat.