The University of Connecticut’s Students for One Health invited students to their annual One Health Conference on Saturday. This conference discussed various topics such as diseases, environmental issues and food insecurity. Dr. Deborah Thomson, DVM was invited to speak to students about her experience throughout her undergraduate career that led her to attend veterinary school. This event was open to all university undergraduate students and was moderated by Madison Britting, eighth-semester physiology and neurobiology major, and co-director of the One Health Conference.
“I thoroughly enjoyed Deborah Thomson’s presentation from last semester’s One Health conference and decided to re-attend this spring for more information about her pre-advocacy years,” Salma Gudaf, sixth-semester allied health sciences major and psychological sciences minor, said. She is a general member of One Health. “To go from a music major to a veterinarian and eventually a One Health advocate on Capitol Hill is really admirable. Navigating your way through different professions and realizing that failure opens the door to new opportunities is something that I both fear and realize is a catalyst for self-improvement.”
“One Health affects us all, as we are part of an increasingly globalized world … The interplay between human, environmental and animal health can even be applied to the global warming crisis and pandemic. Anyone can become an advocate for their field with enough passion and determination!”Salma Gudaf, sixth-semester allied health sciences major and psychological sciences minor, general member of One Health
There were various topics discussed at the conference, consisting of four sections: One Health Topics, How to Live Sustainably, Getting Involved in One Health and Dr. Thomson’s concluding presentation. Britting expressed that the interconnection of human and animal health, along with environmental health, is something that needs more awareness.
“The idea in general needs to be emphasized,” Britting said.
“Tailored communication is the key to relaying information to individuals within vastly different fields,” Gudaf said.
One Health Topics was comprised of various workshops based on issues the organization brings attention and awareness to. In the climate change workshop, they addressed the effects of climate change on the environment and animals. The workshop also provided tips on how to talk to climate change deniers, as well as possible solutions. When addressing climate change deniers, it is important to ask them for their opinions, start a conversation, be open and don’t be assertive. Workshop presenters reminded attendees that climate change is a change over time, and to always use the definition when addressing this topic. In regards to solutions, Students for One Health discussed how we can make small changes to our everyday life, such as unplug electronic devices, picking up trash and walking instead of driving.
The second workshop revolved around living sustainably, which Students for One Health expressed does not have to be a hassle.
“Mak[e] small changes and [start] small, changing habits [by] week,” Britting said. “You don’t have to rework your entire life, just understand what is applicable for you and easier for you. Next time you use laundry detergent, maybe do research and find environmentally friendly brands.”
“The best way to get involved is to join our club,” Britting said. Students for One Health meeting times are every other Wednesday. We have a meeting coming up this Wednesday, Feb. 10.”
Students within the organization also encourage students to get involved on the local level by getting involved in their community’s efforts and finding organizations that align with One Health’s values. One Health provides internships and volunteering opportunities to its students as well.
Dr. Thomson, the founder and president of One Health lessons, received a bachelor of science in biology and a bachelor of music degree at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec. She eventually graduated with a DVM degree and a Certificate of International Veterinary Medicine from Tufts Veterinary School. Today, Thomson is a contributor to the World Veterinary Association’s One Health Education Subgroup, where she is involved in community outreach programs and volunteering at local veterinary schools.
“One Health affects us all, as we are part of an increasingly globalized world,” Gudaf said. “The interplay between human, environmental and animal health can even be applied to the global warming crisis and pandemic. Anyone can become an advocate for their field with enough passion and determination!”
If you are interested in joining One Health, visit UConn Students for One Health for more information.