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More than skin deep

JoyaNothing about Joya Griffin’s DVM ’06 life is merely skin deep. Her love of veterinary medicine is almost as old as she is. Her patients are just as likely to present with allergic reactions as they are with systemic conditions. And, her affinity for Cornell and the Ithaca area seems bottomless.

Griffin was just a kindergartener when she began caring for her neighborhood’s stray animals, offering them food, water, and friendship. Combining the personal satisfaction that this labor of love brought with her aptitude for science and math, Griffin made the decision to become a veterinarian early in her high school career.

“Watching Dr. Doolittle talk to animals was pretty enticing when I was younger,” said Griffin, who also credits a local veterinarian’s support with helping to guide her to the profession.

Today, Griffin is an associate at one of the largest dermatology practices in the country, with offices in southern California, Georgia, Indiana and Kentucky. Based in Louisville, Griffin is focused on building her caseload right now, treating dogs, cats, and horses, and has aspirations to become a partner down the road.

“Dermatology is very interesting,” said Griffin. “It’s more than just allergies, although I practice in one of the most allergenic areas in the country. My patients come to me with conditions that range from skin cancer to auto-immune diseases and everything in between.”

One of Griffin’s earliest patients was her own pup, [Gizmo], who was successfully treated at Cornell while Griffin was a veterinary student. The Lhasa Apso was born with chronic Atopic skin disease that defied treatment for most of her first four years. With help from Griffin’s mentors, Drs. Danny Scott and William Miller, [Gizmo] is now a comfortable, 13-year-old pup who has followed Griffin to her internship at the VCA in Chicago, back to Cornell for her residency program and lecturer position while Scott completed a sabbatical, and now to Kentucky.
Joya with husband
“My time at Cornell and in Ithaca was a blessing,” said Griffin, who married a fellow veterinarian (although a graduate of Tuskegee University). “I felt fortunate to be able to return for the residency and the opportunity to fill in for Danny was amazing. I sat in the same lecture hall as the students I was teaching and was just as overwhelmed with Block V as they were. I tried to make the lectures fun and understandable and I tried to be as approachable as possible. I hope that someday I might return to academia. Students keep things fresh and fun.”

Given that the last good berry patch Griffin found was in the Finger Lakes, returning to Ithaca, she says, "wouldn’t be a bad idea either. I just have to convince my husband!"