International Women’s Day 2022 – Interview With Dr. Daiga Rozensteine

International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. IWD is a useful opportunity to reinforce the fact that everyone has a role to play in forging a more gender-balanced world.

To celebrate International Women’s Day, Cara Veterinary wants to celebrate the achievements of women in leadership, to help break the bias that leadership traits are stereotypically masculine. We caught up with Dr. Daiga Rozensteine, Medical Director / Veterinarian at our Madison Street Animal Hospital location.

Always with the confidence to follow her dreams and stand up for what’s right, she’s met life’s challenges with grit and determined enthusiasm. Read how today she chooses to reject stereotypes about what’s possible and live life with inspired passion. 

Why do you think it is important to celebrate International Women’s Day?

It is important to celebrate International Women’s Day to celebrate women for all we achieve and contribute. It is important to bring awareness to issues like disparity in income and how women are treated. In Latvia Women’s Day is a joyful day of celebration to thank women for being mothers, leaders, caregivers, teachers, etc. It is customary to send the women in your life flowers (it’s a big day for florists!).

Have you faced any barriers in your career due to being a woman? If so, how did you overcome them?

No, I don’t think so. The veterinary profession is represented well by women, I have always worked with a lot of women and my previous bosses have all been women, I have never felt disrespected or mistreated. I am one of the lucky ones.

What is the most important piece of advice you have been given?

My dad wasn’t a man of many words, but he always told me to fight for my dreams, to never stop reaching for your goals, and to never give up. And to not be afraid to lose or fail, failing only makes you stronger, more focused and determined to reach your goals.

How can we encourage more women to pursue leadership roles in their career?

Don’t be afraid to be a leader, you can have a family and still achieve your career goals too. There is room for both. If you are up for it, you have to go for it. Don’t give up on your dreams. I have known a lot of women that have combined both a leadership career and being wonderful mothers. That is inspirational!

What is the most important message you want to send out to young women thinking about their careers?

Be brave! Don’t be afraid to take big steps and to dare. A few years ago I came to the United States all by myself. I took a giant leap in my life when I left my home in Latvia to follow my heart and my dreams. This doesn’t mean you are abandoning your family, your relationships, or your friendships. It means you are living your life, choosing your own path and doing the right thing for you.

There were times I was scared and wanted to give up and go home, but my inner spirit told me not to. When you are in the right place and do the right thing, everything will fall into place for you. What is meant to happen will happen.

Is there anyone that inspires you in your career?

James Herriot, of course. The famous veterinarian who wrote All Creatures Great And Small. Another inspiration was my physiology professor at vet school. She was so incredibly passionate at 75 yrs old that she inspired each and every student to want learn more. I want to be as passionate about my work as she was when I’m 75, I want to continue growing and continue learning and never stop loving what I do.

Why do you think diversity in the workplace is so important?

Different life experiences bring a variety of ideas and better results. When we lift each other up and learn from each other, diversity leads to a more effective team.

If you could have dinner with three inspirational women, dead or alive, who would they be and why?

My Grandmother.
She was deported to Siberia by the Russians in 1941 when she was only 18 years old. For no reason. She spent more than a decade in labor camps, working the fields in Siberia. She had always wanted to be a doctor, and had started med school before being deported. She came back to Latvia in her early 30s, but didn’t go back to school. Instead she got married and had my dad.

She was the strongest woman I know, she was never bothered by the usual problems of life, she knew what true hardship was. Her life story is so profound, her strength for living life through the hell she went through in Siberia… you could write a book about her.

She had the poise of a queen, she showed me how to be polite, lady-like, and dress nicely. She showed me how to stand up for myself. I made her cry when I told her I was going to become a veterinarian, she was so happy I fulfilled her biggest dream.

Jane Goodall

I admire Jane Goodall as an anthropologist and primatologist, she is so passionate. I admire her knowledge and experience in animal behavior and psychology, and of course her groundbreaking work in recognizing animals as sentient beings. I often listen to her interviews and read her inspirational articles. Even at age 87, she continues working hard for our planet and all the living creatures on it.

Vaira Vike-Freiberga

Vaira Vike-Freiberga was the first female Latvian president, she was actually born to Latvian parents in the United States, and didn’t move back to Latvia until her mid-50s when she became president. No one knew her in Latvia, and many were suspicious of why she wanted to lead the country. But she did so much for our country, she ended up serving two terms, and not a single president before or after has accomplished as much as she did. 

She was loved and very much respected across the globe as a peaceful leader. She knew many languages, and wherever she would go she would earn respect immediately.  She always represented Latvia in the best way possible, we were extremely proud of her presidency.

How important is it for women to lift each other up and what does that mean to you?

Same reason it is important for everybody to lift each other up. If you experience inequality, talk about it, say something, stand up for yourself. And if you see someone being treated unequally or poorly, let that person know that we are here for them and support them.

As a leader in my workplace, I strive for a work environment where everyone is comfortable and happy. There are stressful days, there are hard days, but it is important for us leaders to check-in regularly and ask if all is well, if there is anything we can help with to make work easier.

Do you have pets? What do you love most about them?

Yes! Bholu is my 5 year old mixed breed rescue dog from India. He flew across the globe all by himself to live with me 3 yrs ago, with a 24 hour layover in Amsterdam even! Bholu survived canine distemper virus, but it left him with some neurological complications (facial bobbing and a jaw tic), but that only makes him more special. He had lost his right front paw from a bad accident when he was still in India, so when he moved here we got him a prosthetic leg. It’s like a boot that slips onto the short nub where his leg was amputated. It took him awhile to get used to it, but now he goes everywhere where I go and travels with me across the country. He’s been more places than some of my friends!

He loves to hike and loves his life. He is my baby, my companion and my emotional support. I like to say we adopted each other. He trusted me from day one, and I love everything about him. I love his goofiness, his kind heart, and the fact that he is so attached to me. I am his person.

Dr. Daiga Rozensteine, Medical Director / Veterinarian

Dr. Daiga Rozensteine has been with Madison Street Animal Hospital since 2019. Born in Latvia, she knew by age five that she wanted to devote her life to animals and by ten was determined to become a veterinarian. While working at an animal shelter called Dzivnieku Draugs in Latvia, she helped establish a charity hospital for stray animals and pets of low-income families. She’s a graduate of the Latvia University of Agriculture, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, and obtained her Washington State Veterinary License in 2015. She has extensive experience in emergency care and general practice. She loves and feels deeply connected to each of her patients and strives to provide them with the highest quality care.

When away from her patients, she can be found hiking, traveling, cooking vegan food, and volunteering at Pasado’s Safe Haven. Dr. Rozensteine also shares her home with Bholu, a rescued dog from India.