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Student Stories


Penn Vet Grads on Forbes "30 Under 30" List

By: Ashley Berke Date: Jan 9, 2015

Lisa Gretebeck and Nikki Wright awarded for visionary work in Haiti 

[January 9, 2015; Philadelphia, PA] – Lisa Gretebeck, 26, Penn Vet Class of 2015, and Dr. Nikki Wright, 28, Penn Vet Class of 2014, have been named to Forbes’ prestigious "30 Under 30" list for 2015, in the healthcare category. Gretebeck and Wright are recognized for cofounding Pou Sante: Amar Haiti, which provides sustainable animal husbandry training and resources to impoverished families living in rural Haiti.

In 2012, Gretebeck and Wright received Penn Vet’s Student Inspiration Award, and accompanying $10,000 prize, to bring Pou Sante: Amar Haiti to life.

Lisa Gretebeck in HaitiGretebeck and Wright recognized an opportunity to help the impoverished Caribbean nation of Haiti, where an estimated 80 percent of the population lives below the poverty line. Raising livestock for nutrition and income is a valuable option for families struggling to find their way out of poverty. Unfortunately, those who invest in animals often face production losses due to parasites, poor genetics, limited forage, unremitting natural disasters, and environmental degradation. The lack of an efficient method to disseminate information and provide training further compounds the situation.

Pou Sante: Amar Haiti’s relationship with the communities in northern Haiti has provided education and training in sustainable goat management, while improving the health and productivity of the local animal population. This, in turn, has supported financial independence and community commerce. Since 2012, Pou Sante has successfully coordinated five trips to Haiti, brought over 20 veterinarians and veterinary students to Haiti to aid in the mission, and provided veterinary care for over 1,000 animals. In 2014, the organization earned 501(c)(3) nonprofit status to ensure long-term sustainability. Pou Sante continues to bring in new veterinary leaders and maintain strong ties to the Haitian community.

Nikki Wright in Haiti“Our students never cease to amaze me,” said Joan C. Hendricks, VMD, PhD, the Gilbert S. Kahn Dean of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. “Lisa and Nikki are shining examples of the vital role veterinarians play in reducing poverty and hunger worldwide. They are true One Health ambassadors, demonstrating how human, animal, and environmental health are inextricably linked.”

“It is an honor to be named to Forbes’ ’30 Under 30’ list,” Gretebeck said. “Our experiences in Haiti helped me better understand the positive impact of veterinarians on both animal and human health.”

“Working with the Haitian community has been a life-changing experience,” Wright said. “I hope to contribute to additional One Health efforts in the future, aiding other underserved communities domestically and abroad.” 

Gretebeck deferred graduation from Penn Vet for a year to spend an extra year in the Medical Research Scholars Program at the National Institutes of Health, where she is conducting research related to emerging zoonoses. Since graduating in May, Wright has served as associate veterinarian at the Banfield Pet Hospital in Fairless Hills, PA, as well as a relief veterinarian for the Humane Society of the United States’ Pets for Life Program.

About Penn Vet

Penn Vet is a global leader in veterinary medicine education, research, and clinical care. Founded in 1884, Penn Vet is the only veterinary school developed in association with a medical school. The school is a proud member of the One Health Initiative, linking human, animal, and environmental health.

Penn Vet serves a diverse population of animals at its two campuses, which include extensive diagnostic and research laboratories. Ryan Hospital in Philadelphia provides care for dogs, cats, and other domestic/companion animals, handling more than 31,000 patient visits a year. New Bolton Center, Penn Vet’s large-animal hospital on nearly 700 acres in rural Kennett Square, PA, cares for horses and livestock/farm animals. The hospital handles more than 4,000 patient visits a year, while the Field Service treats nearly 36,000 patients at local farms. In addition, New Bolton Center’s campus includes a swine center, working dairy, and poultry unit that provide valuable research for the agriculture industry.