Breaking down barriers

Gurpawan Khalsa

I applied to study veterinary medicine after completing a degree in bioveterinary science at UWE Bristol (Hartpury). In my final year there, I undertook a research project and really enjoyed it. I worked in a vet practice, where I learned so much, as well as on the university’s dairy and sheep farms and in its stables. 

When I applied for veterinary medicine, I did not know anyone who was like me (I’m from a British East African Indian Sikh background) who could help me through the application process. 

Nonetheless, I applied and obtained a place. I’m now at Liverpool vet school. Being a BAME student at vet school is interesting. I am the only British East African Indian Sikh female in my year, which is very white dominated. This has never bothered me personally although, having been brought up in a mixed culture and being from London, it did take some getting used to. In London, most of my friends were from different backgrounds and it was very diverse. So, at vet school, I joined the Liverpool Sikh Society, the Liverpool East African Society and even the Liverpool Hindu Society. I wanted to get out and meet people of a similar background, who I could relate to (and who could say my name properly!). 

I used to wonder if I was accepted to vet school as a ‘trophy’, being a mature student, from London and from a BAME background. However, I don’t actually think this is the case, as everyone has been so welcoming and real. Everyone at the vet school is amazing, and I have learned that acceptance is not about what is on the outside but what is on the inside, as people have diverse personalities and backgrounds. 

Gurpawan Khalsa, vet student

I’ve also started my own business project, which I’ve called Emerald Enkindle. Being a Student Advocate at Liverpool, I quickly learned by talking to school students on open days and at interviews just how much they did not know about the process of applying to vet school. Also, I was often asked (mostly by parents) if I was studying medicine – reflecting perhaps the underrepresentation of BAME students on the veterinary medicine course. 

I want to break down barriers for BAME students, showing them that you can be a vet student, join societies and even start your own business.

Emerald Enkindle offers educational and motivational talks online and via YouTube to encourage students from more diverse backgrounds to consider a career in veterinary medicine. We also offer key stage 3 and GCSE online tutoring to students anywhere in the UK (we’re DBS checked and I personally have three years of teaching experience). 

Emerald Enkindle screen shot

Other offerings from Emerald Enkindle include YouTube videos aimed at vet students, covering topics such as mental health or giving tips for getting through lockdown. We also publish recipes and even sell merchandise, such as sweatshirts. 

You can find out more at:


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