Editor’s Note — This is part of a weekly student conversation series highlighted as part of Native American Heritage Month on the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Medium page. The series will feature students who are making impacts on campus and beyond. This week, meet veterinary technology major Ranger Quill Gunville. Gunville is Minecoujou Lakota from the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe in Eagle Butte, South Dakota. As an undergraduate, she’s conducting research with clear impacts, and outside of class, she’s helping build inclusive spaces for students to thrive while serving as a role model for others.
You’re currently serving as the president of Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences. Why were you interested in joining this group and how has it impacted your college experience?
I was interested in joining MANRRS because I was looking for a place to belong on campus, somewhere I could embrace my Lakota culture and to meet people in similar majors of agriculture and related sciences. When I first joined the club, I was given an amazing opportunity to attend the MANRRS National Conference in Jacksonville, Florida. After attending the conference, this bolstered my interest in thinking about my professional development of networking, resumes and internships. Not only that, but finding my voice. Coming from an underrepresented background is arduous to say the least, however, I have grown and learned from seeing others with a similar background overcome similar obstacles and be successful. I feel more empowered and strengthened since joining the club. It has also improved my professional development and personal development. As president, I hope to accomplish getting more club members and people involved in MANRRS. We are such an incredible, powerful club that I want other people on campus to be a part of it.
Why is getting out into the community and working with kids on STEM projects important for you?
Growing up on the reservation, I never saw people like me in the veterinary field, much less in any science-related fields. I honestly didn’t believe I could be a veterinarian because of the lack of representation and encouragement. Anytime I get the chance to work with youth, I hope to be able to be that role model for rez kids like me and let them know that they can do anything they put their minds to.
Talk about the research you do and why you’re passionate about it.
This past summer, I was accepted into the Native American Research Internship in Salt Lake City, Utah. I joined the laboratory of Dr. Hoareau, and I was co-mentored by Amy Taylor and CalliCarroll working on a project entitled “Comparison of Resuscitation Products for Canine Hemorrhagic Shock.” We compared nonshelf-stable and shelf-stable resuscitation products. We specifically looked at (shelf-stable) packed red blood cells, platelets, fresh frozen plasma + hetastarch + lactated ringer solution, and whole blood, and compared that to (nonshelf-stable) lyophilized platelets + hemoglobin-based oxygen carrier + freeze-dried plasma. We hypothesized that shelf-stable products are non-inferior to nonshelf-stable products in treating canine hemorrhagic shock. Our results showed no major difference in shelf-stable and nonshelf-stable products. A shelf-stable combination of the HBO+FDP might be non-inferior to chilled whole blood for resuscitation from hemorrhagic shock.
I am passionate about the research I did over the summer because of how valuable and applicable it can be for the Army and rural areas like Native American reservations. The findings of this research project could decrease the deaths of hemorrhagic shock by treating it with alternative resuscitation products. I am grateful and proud to have been a part of the research project and the Native American Research Internship Program.
How was your experience with the Native American Research Internship program this past summer?
The NARI program opened my eyes to the importance and value of research. Being involved in the research study, I was able to enhance my skills working with various animals such as canine, porcine and mice. I specifically worked on thromboelastography, looking at the graphs to see the effects of the resuscitation products on the canines. Also, I was able to gain hands-on experience with anesthesia machines, collecting and running thromboelastography graphs, researching journal articles, and presenting a research poster. I loved going to lab every day because I was so excited to learn something new from my amazing mentors. With the experiences I obtained, I am more equipped to pursue future research projects. My favorite part of my summer research experience in Utah was the mountains. On the weekends, I enjoyed going hiking, and just sitting in nature and observing the beauty of the mountains.
Is there anything you hope to accomplish in your lifetime?
In my lifetime, I hope to accomplish becoming a mixed animal veterinarian and serve the people and animals on my reservation. My wish is to work together with the Wakpa Waste (Good River) Animal Shelter. I want to help decrease the stray animal population and improve animal health care, which will also improve human health. When I am no longer able to be in the veterinary field, I would like to become a guidance counselor at my local high school to inspire more Native students to go to college.
What or who inspires you?
My four strong siblings and community inspire me to be the best person I can be, not only for myself, but my tribe. The amount of resiliency and power that I come from inspires me to keep going when things get hard, and to return home back to my reservation and help to provide animal care. As Native people, we know how connected people and animals are. If we keep the four-leggeds healthy, we keep the two-leggeds healthy. I am inspired every day by the other Native leaders, such as Elouise Cobell, Henry Standing Bear and Black Elk.
What is your advice to other students looking to make an impact on campus?
My advice to other students looking to make an impact on campus would be to first start. Find a place on campus that you enjoy. I implore you to get out of your comfort zone and take those leadership positions because it will make you a better leader and person in the long run. Even better, you can start your own organization and create new ideas and opportunities that haven’t been on campus before. Explore your passions, and the best way is to start here at UNL.