Charletta Begaye

IMG_0292 At the time this profile was written, Charletta Begaye, Navajo, DVM, was a senior veterinary medicine student at Colorado State University. She works in a small animal hospital in Tucson, Arizona.

Pursuing Her Dream with Determination

Begaye grew up on a Navajo reservation with lots of animals, particularly livestock and dogs. She acknowledges, “The traditional ways of taking care of cattle and sheep are good. The animals are not confined to a feedlot. They are allowed to roam. That’s healthy.”

Begaye, however, also had some concerns: “I always wanted to do something for the homeless dogs who had mange. There was no vet on our reservation when I was small. Later I wanted to help people as well as animals. I wanted to teach people how to take care of animals and improve the value of cattle.”

Begaye began preparing herself for veterinary medical school. “When I was an undergraduate at the University of Arizona, during the summers and during breaks I worked at a veterinary clinic at my home in Chinle with Dr. Kimberly Draper who is one-half Navajo. When she left, we were without a vet for a long time. There was no place to take sheep that had been attacked by dogs.”

“It took me four tries to get into vet school,” she says. “I was turned down the first time I applied, so I got a job in Tucson as a vet tech. The second time I applied, I was given alternative positions, but that didn’t pan out. Then I moved to Flagstaff where I went for another bachelor’s degree in accounting because I thought that would help me run my own veterinary practice. I also worked at a clinic."

Then Begaye got a call from Colorado State inviting her to participate in the Vet Prep Program. She accepted the offer, did the one-year program, and then was admitted into the vet school.
This article was originally published in the Autumn 2002 issue of Winds of Change. (The cover artist is Virginia Stroud, United Keetoowah Bank of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma.)