NC State Counselor Chosen as Champion of Student Wellbeing by Student American Veterinary Medicine Association
Laura Castro, director of counseling services at the NC State College of Veterinary Medicine, has won the Champion of Student Wellbeing Award from the Student American Veterinary Medicine Association for fall 2022.
Castro, who immigrated from Bogota, Colombia, when she was 12, has been helping veterinary students at NC State since 2019. She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Elon University and a master’s in social work from UNC-Chapel Hill.
“I feel so valued and honored to be recognized in this way!” says Castro, who also worked as a post-master’s fellow at the NC State University Counseling Center. “I love helping to support this community, and I look forward to having a therapeutic celebration for the whole CVM community.”
The award comes with a $500 prize that Castro can use any way she wants. According to the the SAVMA website, the award seeks to recognize individual faculty or staff members who go above and beyond to promote student wellbeing.
“This may include, but is not limited to, promoting mental, physical, spiritual and emotional intelligence among their students, creation or support of wellbeing initiatives and programming at their institutions, or serving as a role model that demonstrates the importance of self-care,” the SAVMA website says.
Caitlin Passaro, a member of the NC State SAVMA Wellbeing Committee, nominated Castro for the award.
“I nominated Laura because she is very involved in many different aspects of promoting and maintaining the wellbeing of vet students at NC State’s vet school, and I know how much she is appreciated among the students,” says Passaro, a second-year DVM student. “I am very happy that she won – it is well-deserved. I think that her recognition speaks to NC State’s efforts of prioritizing the wellbeing of its students.”
The NC State College of Veterinary Medicine provides in-house counseling services to its students and residents because it is committed to wellbeing in the community. Matt Bishop, a licensed clinical mental health counselor, works with Castro to provide multiculturally affirming counseling and consultation services to veterinary students, graduate students and house officers.
“Laura truly is a champion for our students,” says Kate Meurs, dean of the NC State College of Veterinary Medicine. “She is an innovative leader who is always looking for new ways to provide support for the CVM community, particularly our students. We are truly fortunate to have her as part of the NC State CVM team.”
Castro’s initial inclination when she heard of the prize money was to find a way to share it with the community. She suggested hiring a zumba instructor to teach a class on the lawn with refreshments and fun.
“Dancing is one of my main forms of self-care, so this seems like a perfect way to celebrate with everyone,” Castro says. “I hope to continue finding unique ways to support all types of folks who make a part of our community.”