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Aggies Grow Personally, Professionally during Veterinary Leadership Experience

Posted July 31, 2017

VLE2017This summer, five Aggie Doctor of Veterinary Medicine students, Veterinary Leadership Institute (VLI) board members Karen Cornell and Kenita Rogers, and faculty representative Kristin Chaney attended the Veterinary Leadership Experience (VLE), a week-long intensive leadership training program that encourages participants to “think outside the box” for personal and professional growth.

Below students share some of their experiences.

Taylor E. Adams, Class of 2020

Q: Tell us about your experience at VLE, the lessons learned, the opportunities to network, and the impact the experience will have on your future.
A: My experience at VLE was by far the best of vet school. I learned lessons about myself, how I communicate with myself and others, how to more effectively lead those around me, how I react under pressure, and many more. I had the opportunity to network with some of the best in the profession and the future of the profession and have stayed in contact with them since. I just attended the AVMA Convention in Indianapolis and had the opportunity to reconnect with them. This experience definitely affected my future inside and outside of the profession. It shaped the way I see myself, others, and the world, and how I make daily decisions.

We focused on personal and servant leadership and the components of those, including communication, conflict resolution, emotional intelligence, and resilience. Each of these is an important aspect to develop, personally, and for the good of the profession, as a whole. I reference these ideas each day as I communicate with others and make decisions.

Q: Why did you attend the VLE?
A: I attended VLE after the insistence of previous attendees. Many of my friends in the classes above me approached me and told me about their experiences there and I was convinced, so I applied and was chosen by the administration to attend.

Q: Was this your first time?
A: Yes, this was my first time to attend this program or anything like this program.

Q: What were some of the highlights of the experience for you?
A: Highlights of the experience for me included outside small group activities, which apply to school now, my future in the profession, and life outside veterinary medicine. Our daily activities corresponded to the topics of the day and those topics were interwoven throughout the experience. I also loved the boating cruise one night and group meals with the fabulous food.

Q: What would you tell other students about the VLE to encourage them to attend?
A: I would tell other students that VLE encourages and fosters your personal growth by putting you in your stretch zone and having incredible mentors lead you the whole way. You are in an environment in which more growth can occur in your leadership and the way in which you approach the world than anywhere else. You also get to meet and become close with amazing current and future professional in veterinary medicine, gaining friends and mentors.

Q: Where are you from and what plans do you have after you graduate?
A: I am from Dallas, Texas, and plan to pursue a specialty in small animal medicine, focusing on dogs and cats—though I also love horses! Basically, I do not know what I want to do with my life yet but am excited for the journey.

Q: What year are you in starting in the fall?
A: I am starting my second year in the fall.

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
A: One of the most exciting aspects of VLE this year is that those who attended are able to work with the administration, many of whom are on the board of the VLI (that puts on VLE), to improve and reorganize orientation for the incoming first years. We are going to implement exercises and discussions used at VLE to improve orientation this year. I am excited to bring elements of VLE back to offer new tools and improve the lives of those incoming first years as they begin this journey in veterinary school. I appreciate our administration and their involvement in continuously improving this process and our time during vet school. Our plans for orientation are engaging and very different, and I am so glad to get to be a part of it—I am excited for the Class of 2021!

Pamela May, Class of 2019

Q: Why did you attend the VLE?
A: I attended the VLE because I will become the director of Open House 2018 and I wanted to further my leadership abilities to make sure we can have the best, most successful, and most cohesive Open House executive team. I also wanted to learn aspects about myself to help in my future career.

Q: What did you hope to learn?
A: I hoped to learn how to host effective meetings and handle difficult conflict situations.

Q: What did you learn?
A: I learned a lot about myself and my journey to where I am now that I think helps shape the way I think. I learned a lot about teamwork through all the team-building activities that I think will help in group activities in the future. I learned about when to speak up and when to listen to others.

Q: Has the experience impacted your future career? If so, in what ways?
A: I absolutely think the VLE has impacted my future career. I think there are many situations as a clinician in veterinary medicine when you have to be more of a leader when it comes to making decisions for your patients. I also hope to own a clinic one day and I would have to be a leader to effectively lead a team of veterinarians to work with.

Q: Where are you from?
A: I am from South Padre Island/Brownsville, Texas

Q: Why did you choose the Texas A&M veterinary school?
A: I chose the Texas A&M Veterinary School because I wanted to stay in Texas, I went to Texas A&M for undergrad, and I knew that the TAMU Vet School was the perfect fit for me.

Q: Do you recommend other DVM students attend the VLE next year? Why?
A: I recommend as many DVM students attend the VLE as possible especially those who are going to lead organizations because it helps people understand themselves and be able to use that to effectively lead people better.

Amanda Tabone, Class of 2020

Q: What will your attendance at the VLE help you with in the DVM program and beyond?
A: I think that VLE will definitely benefit me when I am working with my classmates as well as other students from different programs or different career paths. I felt I gathered a lot of valuable lessons as far as being able to really connect and understand those with different personality types or tendencies. I think that I will go about resolving conflict in a totally different way and will reflect much more before acting or speaking.

Q: Where are you from and what year of the DVM program are you in?
A: I am from Colleyville, Texas, and I am part of the class of 2020.

Q: Why did you choose Texas A&M?
A: When I was applying, A&M was the only school I applied to because I knew there was not another school that I would go to. I have always been impressed with the level of education and the remarkable reputation that comes with becoming an Aggie vet. Also, my dad is an Aggie vet, so I have always known I would end up at A&M's vet school and did not have a back-up plan to attend any other school.

Q: Did you meet people from other colleges?  Was the networking piece good for you to experience?
A: I met a large group of people from other schools and the networking opportunities were awesome. The small group to which I was assigned all became friends on Facebook and created our own subgroup for VLE. I think we will all keep in touch, especially when there are conference opportunities for us to meet up. We are also friends with our facilitators on Facebook and keep in touch with them.

Q: What are the takeaways for you after going through this experience?
A: My personal takeaways will be how I go about handling conflict, how I will interact and communicate with those of different personality types in order to make sure they know I am being sincere in my listening and communication, and how to self-manage and step back from a problem and re-evaluate how I am going about the situation.

Q: Did having your peers with you help build rapport with them?
A: I think that the five of us who went together from A&M are definitely closer than we were before going.

Q: What do you plan to do when you graduate and how will those plans be affected by this experience?
A: I plan to practice in small animal medicine, and I cannot count all the ways that this training will help me to become the best vet, leader, and customer service representative that I can be, along with being the best teammate for those that I will work with.

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