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KNOXVILLE, Tenn.– Eight black high school students studying at the University of Tennessee this summer may help remedy an overall shortage of veterinarians in Tennessee.

Dr. Christine Jenkins, UT associate professor of veterinary medicine, said the eight are enrolled in a program to attract minorities to vet medicine.

The shortage of veterinarians in Tennessee is due in part to the fact that only 2 percent of the nation’s vet students are black, Jenkins said.

“UT graduates about 60 vets a year, but that does not fill all the positions open in Tennessee,” she said.

“Most vet school students receive multiple job offers immediately upon graduation. There are always rural areas where we cannot place vets.”

Jenkins said students in the UT summer program work as interns in their hometowns and study animal care at UT, the Knoxville Zoo, an eagle sanctuary at Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, and the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga.

Five others who previously went through the UT summer program — now in its third year — are in the pre-vet school curriculum at UT, Jenkins said.

This year’s students and their high schools are:

* Chattanooga — Tony Adams, Tyner High School.

* Memphis — Kimberly Kelly, Craigmont; Derrick Meadows, Highland Academy; Nicole Rice, Memphis Catholic; Alexis Sullivan, East, and Audrey Taylor, White Station.

Nashville — Carlotta Thornton, Strafford, and Tya Harris, Hume-Fogg.

The eight-week program ends August 4.

Contact: Dr. Christine Jenkins (615-974-5551)