Exceptional Graduates: Carnegie hero achieves dream of becoming veterinarian

Exceptional Grad Summer N. WhiteIn Spring 2021, Summer N. White earned her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from Oklahoma State University.

Ten years earlier, White acted on an impulse to attempt to save a 32-year-old woman who lay injured and incapacitated on the road beside her car after a nighttime accident on an interstate highway in Mulvane, Kansas.

White, 18, was a passenger in a pickup truck that stopped at the scene. The injured woman screamed for help. White exited the  truck and went to the woman’s aid. The threat of oncoming traffic loomed.

She grasped the woman’s arms and started to move her when a truck struck the damaged car, causing it to spin. White and the woman were struck and knocked against a median barrier wall.

Both women were taken to the hospital. Over the next three days, White underwent treatment and surgery for injuries including fractures to her collarbone, shoulder, and back. The 32-year-old woman died.

On September 13, 2012, White was awarded the Carnegie Medal and a financial award for the extraordinary bravery she demonstrated that night.

“I don’t ever remember a distinct moment or decision, it was just instinct to help others in danger. I was in motion before I even had thought through the repercussions,” White said.

A decade later, as White reflects on her actions, she has clarity on  the kind of individual she is and the strength which she possesses.

Carnegie Hero Summer N. White, right, and husband Seth Hiddink pose in their white coats after White graduated with her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree. Hiddink is also a fellow veterinarian.

“[That night] gave me the knowledge that when faced with extreme moments in life, I am the type of person who acts. I am proud to know that I am the kind of person who tries to make it better,” she said.

White’s selfless action also resulted in physical injury. Support from her family and friends, especially her parents, was vital to her recovery, she said.

She also found strength in her work – training horses.

“I grew stronger having the ability to focus my thoughts and pain into bettering myself and a horse’s natural talents,” White said.

White’s decision to pursue a doctorate degree in veterinary medicine was the culmination of her life-long fascination with medicine, disease processes, and the pathophysiology behind them, she said.

“Having the ability to apply that fascination to helping animals and the people that love them is what drove me to pursue this challenging career,” she explained.

White, a native Oklahoman, is proud of the veterinary medicine provided to the public and their animals by Oklahoma State University. And it was this pride that helped her decide to study at Oklahoma State University.

As a Carnegie hero, White was also eligible for continuous scholarship assistance in her academic endeavors from the Hero Fund.

“I will be forever grateful for [the Hero Fund] believing in me. Their continuous support in pursuing my dreams of being a doctor of veterinary medicine is invaluable,” White shared.

One of White’s favorite, albeit challenging, classes of veterinary school was surgical techniques.

“It made me realize how far I had come in my education. From being able to run anesthesia on a variety of animals to fine tuning my surgical skills on numerous different procedures. It showed me that I have the ability to think on my feet and truly apply the knowledge I have accumulated,” she said.

White also completed rotations at different hospitals all over the nation. She traveled to Las Vegas, Texas, and Alabama, working in emergency hospitals, general practices, and equine hospitals.

“These experiences helped me tailor my decision on what type of veterinarian I wanted to be. I found a passion for small animal medicine in general practice,” White said.

Since graduation, Dr. White has taken a job at a large, six-doctor general animal hospital in Yukon, Oklahoma. Her husband, fellow veterinarian, Dr. Seth Hiddink, works at an emergency hospital in Oklahoma City. On their days off, they enjoy spending time with family, friends, their two dogs Marlos and Koda, and horse, Tater.

Congratulations, Dr. White!

— Abby Brady, communications assistant/archivist