About Us

What is TARVT?

TARVT was originally formed as a professional association for Registered Veterinary Technicians in Texas, but membership has been opened up to anyone working as part of a veterinary healthcare team in Texas.  This is because everyone invovled in providing veterinary care is an important part of the team and can benefit from learning more about veterinary medicine.

A copy of the association’s bylaws can be found here: TARVT Bylaws

TARVT’s — About Us 

Our goals are to promote communication between veterinary technicians and hospital staff working in the state of Texas. We strive to provide and inform our members of quality continuing education opportunities. To be a “voice” for our members in the Texas Veterinary Medical Association and the legislative bodies in Texas. To provide the public with education on the value of quality health care for pets. TARVT has been meeting these goals for more than 40 years -since the association’s formation in 1977 as the “Texas Association of Animal Technicians, Registered”.

In order to continue to meet the needs of all hospital staff in Texas, the association needs you. With more members, the association has a bigger ”voice” to get the views and requests of our members heard. Membership in TARVT is not limited to Registered Veterinary Technicians. All veterinary hospital personnel are encouraged to become members of the association.   By  joining TARVT you can play a part in continuing the progress of our profession.

You can view and save a copy of the association bylaws by clicking here: TARVT Bylaws

Who is your Executive Board for TARVT?
(Changes to the board will occur in conjunction with TVMA’s Annual Conference in Feb. 2014.  The incoming board is listed at the bottom of this page.)

Board Advisor
David Sessum, RVT





David is  a 2000 graduate of Tomball College with his AAS in Veterinary Technology. He initially worked as a surgery technician at Gulf Coast Veterinary Hospital from 1998-2004. He later joined Texas A&M in January 2004, specifically in the small animal orthopedics department working in small animal rehabilitation.  His duties included clinical instruction of veterinary students on the benefits and techniques of rehabilitation. In 2012 he resigned from Texas A&M to become the clinical coordinator of Blinn College’s Veterinary Technology Program. David has published articles in Veterinary Technician magazine in October and November 2003 and was the 2009 TVMA Technician of the Year.

Lori VanValkenburg, RVT


Lori is a 2006 graduate of Tomball College originally hailing from Michigan. She made her move to Texas in 1998 settling in Houston. At that time she was employed as a surgical assistant in human medicine, but made the move to veterinary medicine in 2004 when she enrolled at Tomball College.   As a veterinary technology student at Tomball College, she held the position of VTSO president and briefly assisted as a student worker and as a supplemental instructor (SI) for the A & P of Domestic Animals course.  She completed her externship at MD Anderson Cancer Center in the Large Animal Surgery department.  Upon graduation, she passed her VTNE and Texas state board exam becoming an RVT in 2006. She later furthered her education and obtained her BAS in Veterinary Technology from St. Petersburg College online program. She has worked in many areas of veterinary medicine including; small animal general practice, relief technician work, training supervisor, and RVT faculty instructor at Vet Tech Institute of Houston for four years. Additionally she is a  VTNE item writer for the AAVSB and Director at Large for the Executive Board of the AVTE.  She has authored an instructor’s handbook in February 2012: An Instructor’s Guide to Writing Better Test Questions.  Lori is enrolled as a graduate student at University of Phoenix, and is nearly finished working toward earning a Masters degree in Education.  Currently she is the Program Director for the Veterinary Assistant and Veterinary Technology Program at Pima Medical Institute in Houston.

Outside of the veterinary world, Lori has a handsome young son named Nathan with whom she loves to spend time.  They share their home with a Bengal named Beau, a Toyger named Meeah, and a Siberian cat named Simba.

Vice President
Kristi Ely, RVT, VTS (EVN)

Picture and bio coming soon!



Sue Allen, RVT



Picture and bio coming soon!



Marisa Rhyne, RVT VTS (ECC & SAIM)







Marisa is a graduate from Cedar Valley College with her AAS in veterinary technology in May 1998. She later graduated from St. Petersburg College with her BAS in veterinary technology in December 2008. She furthered her education and training by obtaining her VTS in Emergency and Critical Care in 2006 and her VTS in Small Animal Internal Medicine in 2008. Marisa is the 2012-2014 Small Animal Director at Large for the Academy of Internal Medicine for Veterinary Technicians. She also has published an article in Veterinary Technician magazine in December 2010. Currently she works at a specialty practice in the DFW area and teaches Certified Veterinary Assisting at UT-Arlington and Collin College.

She lives in Frisco, Tx with my husband, 2 kids, 2 goldens, and 2 cats. In her minimal spare time she enjoys reading, watching movies, and spending time with her family and friends.

Melanie Hollis, RVT








Melanie began working in the veterinary field in 1985 in Los Angeles as receptionist, veterinary assistant and kennel technician. She began her formal education at Pierce College to pursue a degree in Animal Heath Technology in 1991, and chose to put it on hold to raise her son. After moving to Dallas, Melanie restarted her studies at Cedar Valley College and earned an Associates of Applied Science degree in Veterinary Technology in 2003. After taking and passing the VTNE and Texas State exams that same year,  she earned the title of Registered Veterinary Technician.  She has worked in companion animal, equine, large and exotic animal medicine.  Melanie is also an instructor at The University of Texas at Arlington and Collin College teaching Certified Veterinary Assisting.  Melanie shares her home with 2 cats, 4 dogs and a wonderful and loving husband. In her spare time, she enjoys watching and attending sporting events, concerts, plays and loves spending time with friends and family.

Associate Representative
Sandy Nunn







Texas A&M Vet Tech IV, Large Animal Medicine Technical Supervisor
AAEVT Past President and Charter Member
Blinn Vet Tech Program Executive Board

Hobbies and Pets: Between me and my family we have: 5 dogs, 1 cat, 2 ferrets, 2 snakes, 1 cockatiel, a herd of donkeys, mules and horses. I serve on the PTO at the school of my boys ages 9 and 12. My husband and I own a mechanic shop in Hearne, TX. For fun we like to go camping, hiking, swimming and fishing.


Newsletter Editor

Carol Melasky, RVT

Picture and bio coming soon!


Membership Coordinator
Karen Ellis, RVT



Karen graduated from Palo Alto College in San Antonio in 2003. After graduation, she moved to Houston to work as a Surgery technician at Gulf Coast Veterinary Surgery. In 2005, she briefly worked at Texas A&M as a Emergency Triage Technician during a move to the Brenham area, but returned to Gulf Coast and Houston in 2006. Karen has a special interest in Joint Replacement surgery and orthopedics for dogs and cats. She has helped Biomedtrix and Dr. Liska from GCVS with instructional labs for knee, elbow and hip replacements in the U.S. and in Munich, Germany in 2008 and Helsinki, Finland in 2011. In October 2012, Gulf Coast Veterinary Surgery opened a new referral hospital (Mission Veterinary Specialists) in San Antonio, TX. Karen spent 8 months at Mission Veterinary Specialists as the Clinic Start up Coordinator to help get the facility up and running. She now spends most of her time back at the Houston location. This past year she became a VTS in Surgery, as part of the first group to take the specialty’s certification exam and will be serving as Chair of the AVST’s Nomination’s committee. She has spoken at the GCVS Symposium and hopes to broaden her speaking to larger conferences in the future.

Karen lives northwest of Houston in Cypress with her husband Paul, her 2 daughters, Claire and Molly, and her mixed breed dog, Roxi.


TARVT’s 2014-2016 Executive Board:

President Elect – Sue Allen, RVT (bio will be posted soon!)

Vice President – Kristi Ely, RVT (bio will be posted soon!)

Secretary – Marisa Rhyne, RVT, VTS(ECC,SAIM)

Treasurer – Melanie Hollis, RVT

Associate Representative – Sandra Nunn