“Effective leadership fosters a sense of mutual respect and allows for an open and honest line of communication. Strong leaders inspire and encourage others to be the best they can be.”

Claire Cunningham, a Dairy Science major with a minor in Medicine and Society, started at Virginia Tech with one goal- to become a veterinarian. With a passion for animals and public health, this seemed like the perfect fit. But she found that she felt something was missing, and soon discovered her passion for helping people gain equitable access to healthcare. Claire’s goal now is to become a physician. Claire took the opportunity to serve in many capacities while at Virginia Tech, including working and volunteering at the covid-19 testing and vaccination clinics giving her invaluable experience. Also a member of Gamma Phi Beta, she was able to help coordinate Girls on the Run for local elementary children which encourages running and good health. She also served with Micah’s Backpack while here at VT.

Her leadership roles are many and include executive board of the Dairy Club, where she served as the social coordinator and reporter. Her goal was always to help people feel welcome and that they belonged. She was also the New Member Educator for her sorority, which gave her an opportunity to mentor new members. She also was able to get involved with the Dairy Judging Team, Homecoming Royalty, and advocated extensively for Midwives for Haiti where she worked to help provide healthcare for women and children in Haiti.

Balancing many roles and responsibilities, Claire has learned when to push hard and when to pull back, a valuable lesson for any busy college student! Through everything, Claire has maintained an impressive GPA of 3.87. She served as tutor through the Student Success Center including courses like biology, general chemistry, and organic chemistry. She participated in research in the Dairy Science Department, and was grateful to be able to add the Medicine and Society minor, which she feels has truly rounded out her education. Claire says, “This minor has made me realize that using a biosocial approach to medicine is crucial to producing well rounded physicians. Medicine is inherently human; it cannot be treated strictly as a lab science. This is one of the many reasons I strive to be an incredibly well-rounded student, because I hope to be the best doctor I can be in the future.”

Claire’s nominator praises this inherent well-roundedness that Claire possesses: “Claire is a polished speaker and strong team builder. Her life goal is ambitious, to help close the equity gap in healthcare. Of all of the students I’ve worked with in my 20+ year career, Claire is the one I’d bet on to achieve this goal. In summary, Claire Cunningham is a really neat combination of ability, personality, ambition, and intelligence.”