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WIU Pre-Veterinary Medicine Alumna Returns to Teach Current Students

February 8, 2022

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MACOMB, IL - After starting her academic career at a larger university and finding it did not fit her needs, Western Illinois University alumna Ashley Whiteside knew she wanted to find a smaller, more personalized learning experience. In pursuit of this, she transferred to WIU.

Whiteside graduated from the pre-veterinary program in 2015 with a degree in agricultural science. She gained confidence and took advantage of the many hands-on opportunities presented to her. By the time she graduated, she felt prepared to enter veterinary school from an education standpoint, as well as in terms of the professionalism that she learned at WIU.

The pre-veterinary program is a part of the WIU Department of Agriculture, which Whiteside said helped her push through challenges throughout her time as a student, and made her feel comfortable on campus.

"I really loved being a part of the Ag department," said Whiteside. "It was very inclusive and truly felt like a home away from home."

After graduation, she went on to graduate from Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine. Currently, Whiteside works at the Roseville Veterinary Clinic.

Aside from her professional career, Whiteside continues to give back to her alma mater by not only teaching classes to WIU students, but also mentoring students who are in the same program she was once a part of. The mentorship program, established by faculty member Jana Knupp, aims to pair freshmen agriculture students with a local mentor to help them gain experience in the field. As a mentor, Whiteside meets with students interested in her career and gives them advice regarding the program and the career path, as well as allowing them to shadow her while she's working.

"I think my positive experience being a mentor was influential in my choice to apply for a teaching role here," Whiteside said. "I am excited to be back at WIU as an alumna to teach, and it is something I have really enjoyed so far. I want to do what I can to help support these future veterinarians."

Her journey to becoming a veterinarian was not always easy, and she says that as a student she would have never expected herself to have come full circle and be teaching other students in the program. Whiteside is so grateful for this opportunity and has advice for other students in the program or who may be considering the program.

"Perseverance is key," said Whiteside, "It is not always going to be easy; this program can be extremely challenging and discouragement is a common occurrence. The important thing is to not let the discouragement stop you because, eventually, your hard work will pay off."

For more information about the WIU School of Agriculture, visit

Posted By: Rachel Greene (
Office of University Communications & Marketing