Dr. Cassandra Vaughn, university veterinarian, retires from Alcorn after 25 years of service

Dr. Cassandra Vaughn is retiring at the end of the year after almost 25 years of service to Alcorn State University’s (ASU’s) School of Agriculture and Applied Sciences.

“It has been a pleasure to work in a space where I can provide leadership as well as develop and implement programs to promote student success,” she said.

Her career at Alcorn began in the Department of Agriculture, where she worked for many years as an assistant professor and mentor. Her primary role, though, is the university’s veterinarian, a position she has held since 1996.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here at Alcorn,” she stated. “Working with esteemed colleagues and students has been so amazing and fulfilling. I am truly going to miss it all.”

Vaughn earned a Bachelor’s of Science from Alcorn in 1984, and a Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from Mississippi State University (MSU) in 1988. She was named ASU’s Researcher of the Year in 1998, and MSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine’s Veterinarian of the Year in 2009.

In addition to her extensive list of titles and accolades, she also serves as the co-founder of AgDiscovery, a summer program for youth interested in careers in animal science or veterinary medicine. Since its establishment in 2002, the program has been introduced on 22 college campuses across the U.S. and its outlying territories.

“In 2021, AgDiscovery at Alcorn will be in its 20th year,” said Vaughn. “It was created in response to a challenge grant by the USDA. Myself and my co-writer, the late Ms. Michelle McKee, who was also an Alcorn alum, wanted to create a program for youth that was different from the others. We didn’t want an elite program where only the top 10% could get in, so we didn’t base it off of academics. It worked out much better than we’d hoped. We’ve had students from California to Maine and Puerto Rico. Since its inception, I have written many letters of recommendation for students applying to veterinary medical school. It is truly a life-changing program and I hope to see it continue indefinitely.”

Throughout her profession, Vaughn has taken pride in her involvement in several crucial projects including Heifer International and the Minority Farmers Program, in which groups from Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee traveled to the Pennsylvania Amish Country to educate individuals on animal rearing. Nevertheless, she considers working hand-in-hand with students as the most rewarding. 

“Alcorn’s students have a vast educational backstory,” she said. “Each student is unique and deserves to have a stimulating educational environment where he/she can grow physically, mentally, emotionally, and socially. Throughout my career, I have made myself available and constantly looked for innovative ways to engage my students. Some of my fondest memories were the animal bonding sessions that allowed them to hone their animal handling skillset, the annual Animal Science Club trips, Animal Science Picnic on the Trace, and of course the end of the year celebrations. Those water balloon fights were epic!”

As she heads to retirement, Vaughn is grateful to have had the opportunity to work with amazing staff, students and administrators throughout the University.

In the future, she looks forward to traveling the world and continuing to share her knowledge and expertise. She also plans to go back to school and open a Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in her hometown. She encourages others to never limit themselves, hold true to what they believe, and visit new places while pursuing their passions.

“And please remember,” she adds, “kindness and good manners NEVER go out of style.”