May 31, 2022

Class of 2022: From homegrown dairy farm girl to international veterinarian

Celine Newton aims to help not only Alberta’s veterinary industry, but also to educate others globally
Celine Newton
Newly minted vet Celine Newton brings a long-standing family background in dairy farming to her career. Courtesy Celine Newton

Celine Newton has always had a love affair with dairy farms. Indeed, dairy farming goes back way back in the Lacombe, Alta., native’s family. Her grandfather was the head of a cheese factory in his native Holland, and he would deliver milk in the countryside by horse and buggy.

Newton recalls spending summers at her aunt and uncle’s dairy farms in Holland, as well as at her relatives’ farms here in Alberta. So, it was not a hard decision for her to pursue a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Calgary.

What was your starting point, and what drove your pursuit of veterinary medicine?

I happened to pick up a milking job in high school at one of the nearby farms in Lacombe, and I just loved it. I loved working with the cows and the people, and I just saw that agriculture is such an integral part of our society and there is just such a high need for qualified and educated people to go into that field. I saw the huge need for veterinarians to enter the agricultural industry as well, and that really inspired me to pursue that route.

Celine Newton

Celine Newton and a young patient.

Courtesy Celine Newton

In your studies and your work as a starting veterinarian, do you see a bigger problem or challenge where you can make a difference? 

I’m hoping that I can use my skills and knowledge to fill the need and address the veterinarian shortage in Alberta — or to be part of that, at least. I just think that the industry is changing so much year by year, as well. Large-animal vets also need to … be on top of that and innovative and adjust to changes to provide quality service to the clients that are also trying to improve in the industry.

How has UCalgary and the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine expanded your vision?

Getting to interact with so many of the top veterinarians in the industry has been incredible. Through the program instructors, and as well as on fourth-year rotations, I’ve gotten to meet so many amazing bovine veterinarians across the province. Just getting to learn the different perspectives of different veterinarians everywhere I’ve gone, that has been a really valuable experience for me to expand on my knowledge.

After graduating, you are heading to New York to learn more about dairy medicine. What drew you to take this extra step in your learning career?

New York runs a program out of Cornell University, it’s a six-week advanced dairy medicine course, expanding on specialized areas such as disease-prevention strategies, animal welfare, and how to work the dairy computer program so we can analyze data and assess where the farm might be losing money, where they could improve. It will really give me the opportunity to interact with some top names in dairy medicine and learn from them.

You are also headed to Mongolia on a missionary trip. What is your main goal with going there? How do you think it will impact their lives?

I guess this is something that drew me into veterinary medicine, as well, was seeing how animal agriculture is such an integral part of every society and … there [are] also so many people across the world who have never had access to a veterinarian. So many people [have] poured their energy, time and resources into training me and getting me to where I am today and I’m just excited to be able to take some of that training and knowledge and start to invest in other people. I’ll be teaching at the vet school there … so that, even after I leave, they can continue to use the training and knowledge that we impart on them. They are a very nomadic society, so a lot of cattle, sheep and horses, so there is also a huge need for veterinarians in that country. It’s a chance to take what I’ve learned and help others.

Entrepreneurial UCalgary grads make an impact in business, health care, culture, law, education and more. Read more stories about Class of 2022 students.