Cougar Orientation and Leadership Experience


Dear Incoming Class of 2024,


The Washington – Idaho – Montana – Utah Regional Program in Veterinary Medicine is proud to welcome you to our veterinary community! You are about to embark on one of the biggest challenges of your life and we will do our best to support your preparation.

Since 2002 our introductory week, the Cougar Orientation and Leadership Experience (COLE), has been designed to prepare you for personal and professional success. While the realities of the Covid-19 pandemic have resulted in significant changes to our original plans, our faculty and staff are committed to providing you a powerful virtual orientation experience. While we acknowledge the difficulty at not being able to participate in orientation in-person, we also feel excitement in that the virtual format provides opportunities to connect in new ways. 

After a short introduction to the college, you will spend the first day, Monday, August 17th, engaged in orientation activities within your individual sites. On Tues, Aug 18th, and Wed, Aug 19th, you will be together as an entire cohort for additional virtual experiences focused on preparation for veterinary school, gaining professional and personal skills, and building relationships with faculty, staff, and fellow students. On Thursday afternoon, Aug 20th, additional virtual orientation events culminate in our first ever virtual White Coat Ceremony at 2:30 PM, where you and your new colleagues will be formally welcomed into the WIMU community and the veterinary profession.

Over the past decade, research has indicated that veterinary programs are responsible not only for training clinically competent veterinarians, but also veterinarians with the interpersonal, team and leadership skills to navigate successfully throughout the profession. Our Leadership Experience launches you on this path to professional and personal awareness.

A ground-breaking program, now delivered in a virtual format, the Leadership Experience portion of your orientation has provided the model for veterinary school orientations across the country. The program challenges incoming students to define their personal strengths and goals, build community with fellow students and faculty and consider their evolution from students to outstanding professionals. It is our belief that all veterinary professionals, whether they seek it or not, are personal leaders. Leaders understand their influence, seek the best for everyone they work with and work to build resilience and a positive outlook.

Most of our time together will be spent as both a large group and in small group-settings via Zoom and other online platforms. Upper class mentors and WSU, USU, and MSU faculty and staff will guide you through an experiential curriculum designed to jump-start your training career with thoughtful reflection and a strong community. Meeting your fellow classmates, faculty, staff, and mentors, and aligning your expectations with those of WIMU, are highlights of the program. You will discover your class transform from competitors to collaborators and from a group of people from around the globe into a solid, supportive community.

Former students and faculty affirm COLE as an irreplaceable time of preparation and reflection, as students prepare to begin a rigorous four-year program of veterinary training. We are eager to meet you and begin our four-year journey together.


All our best,


The Cougar Leadership Experience Team


Washington State University