Dr. Paige Carmichael, a Josiah Meigs distinguished professor of pathology, poses for a portrait with her 2019 President’s Fulfilling the Dream award outside of the College of Veterinary Medicine on Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019, in Athens, Georgia. The award is presented to notable individuals each year at the University of Georgia and in Athens-Clarke county who have displayed Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s ideology in their work, specifically in regards to race relations, justice and human rights. (Photo/Gabriella Audi, www.gabbyaudi10.wixsite.com/mysite-1)

 University of Georgia professor Paige Carmichael has been working relentlessly to help minority students feel at home at the School of Veterinary Medicine.

Because of this, she was distinguished with the 2019 President’s Fulfilling the Dream Award.

Beginning in 2004, the President’s Fulfilling the Dream Award is granted to UGA faculty who have strived to further Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream of equality and inclusion. Carmichael said she was nominated by Henry Green and Susan Williams, members of the Black Faculty and Staff Organization.

Carmichael, a Josiah Meigs Distinguished Teaching Professor in the pathology department in the College of Veterinary Medicine, said she was thankful to receive the award.

“It was one of the most humbling and elating feelings I think I can ever remember having,” Carmichael said.

Carmichael graduated from the Tuskegee University School of Veterinary Medicine in 1987 and has been the recipient of many awards. In 2015, she was recognized with the Iverson Bell Award for promoting diversity in the veterinary profession. Carmichael has also received the Lesbian and Gay Veterinary Medical Association Outstanding Achievement Award in 2014, the Tuskegee University Distinguished Alumnus Award in 2013 and the UGA Senior Teaching Fellow in 2010.

For years at UGA, Carmichael has worked on diversity initiatives. From 2006-2015, Carmichael worked as the associate dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine, and she said she aided in the diversification of the college’s student body.

“I was very instrumental, along with my staff of course, in increasing the number of minority students that entered the incoming class from about 5-21 percent,” Carmichael said. “And it still remains high.”

As part of her commitment to diversity, Carmichael served as the faculty advisor for both the Minority Students Science Association since 2015 and the Association of Women in Science since 2010.

Carmichael said it’s important to her that young people see someone who looks like them in the veterinary profession. For years, she was involved in research that looked into the lack of diversity within the veterinary profession.

“Veterinary medicine is one of the least diverse of all medical professions,” Carmichael said. “The number that I was told was that less than two percent of veterinarians were African-American and less than 10 percent were other than white.”

Along with another doctor in the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges, Carmichael worked in the first nationwide college climate survey of all the veterinary schools in the U.S. at that time.

“One of the things we found was that while most veterinary students are very happy in school, there were some issues when it came to students of color and students who were identified as LGBTQ,” Carmichael said.

With these findings, Carmichael made an effort to put policies in place that would guarantee the safety and comfort for students who were traditionally marginalized.

Carmichael considers the award a validation of everything she has done in the past. She said she was happy the university took an opportunity to recognize everything she had done.

“I was really happy that not only does our university go out of its way to recognize that there are people who are trying to fulfill the dream, but they go out of their way to lift that person up,” Carmichael said.

Carmichael doesn’t plan on her endeavors to promote diversity within her profession to stop anytime soon.

“I just know that there has to be a way to keep this university an inclusive one and to get the word out that we are a university that is truly not just welcoming but embracing of diversity,” Carmichael said.