If you’ve been following along at home, you’ve likely noticed that as springtime hits the CVM, our ambassadors have lots to say about the upcoming summer and year ahead.

Chelsea and boots celebrate her receiving her Aggie Ring.
Chelsea and boots celebrate her receiving her Aggie Ring.

Our BIMS students are excited to attend study abroad and internship programs. Our first-year veterinary students (1VM) have their eyes set on some well-deserved rest and relaxation after enduring the most rigorous year of schooling of their lives. Many of our second-year veterinary students (2VM) will try out different clinical externships to help flesh out their career goals. And, finally, our third-year veterinary students (myself included) have a major space-occupying lesion in our mind—fourth-year clinics.

You’ve heard it before—this is our final year of veterinary school, during which we become immersed in the activity of A&M’s elite referral large and small animal hospitals.  If you’ve attended one of our tours, you’ve likely seen current fourth-year veterinary students (4VM) dashing about in white or green coats.  Our job in the fourth-year is to work alongside board-certified specialists to help guide clients through the diagnosis and treatment of their animals’ medical conditions.

I have several friends in the current 4VM class who are now solidifying job offers and planning their move from veterinary student to veterinary practitioner. This process also includes acquiring appropriate licenses and insurance policies necessary to practice.

As you can imagine, summer is a time of transitions, and we are all excited and anxious to step into our new roles.

Recently, I had the great honor to receive my Aggie Ring. Most veterinary students, if they didn’t attend A&M as an undergraduate, apply to receive their ring in the middle of our 2VM year, around the same time as our White Coat ceremony.

I waited until my third year because I decided that it would be nice to have another milestone right before I head into clinics and also because it was a great opportunity to see my parents, since it’s going to be several months before I return home.

Group making gig'em signs and showing their Aggie ring On Aggie Ring Day, we had a lovely dinner at Madden’s in Bryan (definitely recommend), and three of my close friends joined us for my ring ceremony. The evening was filled with love, support, and pride for all of the hard work that underscores the journey to receive one of these rings.

I received my first Balfour ring when I graduated Bucknell University in 2013, and it seems fitting to have a second one to commemorate my time as an Aggie veterinary student.  I’m not one for a ton of jewelry in the first place (it all has to come off for surgery!), but I do love what these rings represent and cherish the education I’ve received from both institutions.

Another important milestone to consider is that I have to say goodbye to my time as a CVM Ambassador.  I have worked in this program since 2015 and have held the position of lead ambassador for the past two years, managing the logistics of providing tours of the VBEC and our teaching hospitals.

It’s been a great honor to hold this leadership position—I’ve worked with some wonderful students with so much passion for the A&M community. Furthermore, with the incredible support of a dedicated supervisor, I have gained many skills in communication and team management.

Chelsea, as a child, with her mother and her horse Sparkle.
Chelsea, as a child, with her mother and her horse Sparkle. Horses have always been a big part of Chelsea’s life and are part of the reason she pursued veterinary medicine.

The next generation of this program is going to have so many exciting features for our future guests, and I can’t wait to see our new lead ambassador walking through the hospitals training new guides!

As I wrap up my swan song, I’m inclined to think about when I was about 8 years old, visiting Texas A&M for the first time—it was the first veterinary school I had ever seen.

While my pony was being treated for a soft tissue injury, my mom and I were given a tour of the newly built Large Animal Hospital, and, in only the way that a child can, I declared something of a premonition—this is where I would become a veterinarian.

Shortly after that time, my family moved to England, and I wasn’t sure when or if I would be returning to the States. I haven’t the space to thank everyone who has played a role in my journey back to this school, but as I transition into my final year as a veterinary student, I think of them daily and am so grateful to be here, watching my childhood ambitions mature into a promising career as a DVM.

Another year has begun!

Chelsea selfie on a hikeAfter a refreshing summer hiking in the mountains of Colorado and spending time with my family’s ranch of animals, I road-tripped back to College Station to begin my penultimate year of the DVM program.

As third-year DVM students, my classmates and I will explore a variety of clinical subjects that will prepare us for our fourth-year hospital rotations. In addition to general medicine and diagnostic imaging courses, this semester I will be taking classes in oncology, emergency response management, cardiology, and clinical pathology. We will spend time shadowing in Texas A&M’s small and large animal referral hospitals and practice necessary clinical skills you might have seen a veterinarian perform in a clinic or the field. We also will learn about regulatory procedures a veterinarian must follow, such as the rules of administering health certificates for animal travel.

Field of horsesNext semester, I will take a variety of equine and small animal medicine courses, such as dentistry, wound management, and neurology—among many others!

Lately I’ve been thinking back to how my younger self tromped around with a passion for veterinary medicine—helping my mother dry off a newborn foal, peering over a surgery table as one of my mentor veterinarians performed an ovariohysterectomy on a cat, walking down the row of a milking parlor full of dairy cows, observing social dynamics of baboons and capuchins, learning how to restrain a parrot, performing venipuncture, and running lab work. Since then, I have expanded my skills and gained confidence in discussing animal physiology and pathology, as well as how these principles relate to the various fields of medicine.

Chelsea PuppyIt’s incredible to think that this dream is almost realized—especially when I consider the responsibilities that come with maintaining professional integrity and competency for our patients, clients, and peers.

It can feel a bit daunting at times, but I greatly look forward to building a career as a veterinarian and leaning into the journey ahead.



A Flurry of Fur

Chelsea Dogs on the Porch
Jojo and Derby, two of Chelsea’s family’s three Jack Russell Terriers, sit on the porch at her home in Colorado, which overlooks a scenic view.

What a mad dash this weekend has been!

Finals ended Friday morning for the second-year veterinary students, and, typically, we like to take the next couple of days to rest up from the “celebration of knowledge.” I, however, needed to leave early on Saturday in order to get home to my parents’ horse ranch in Colorado by Sunday.

So what was the big rush?

A long-awaited Golden Retriever puppy is being added to my family’s clan of animals this summer and, coincidentally, her pick-up date coincided with the end of my finals AND the pregnancy due date of one of our horses.

Chelsea's Kiara
Kiara, the newest addition to the family, is a cream Golden Retriever (9 weeks old, as pictured).

So, on Friday afternoon I had a quick celebratory lunch with my friends and then headed to the airport to pick up my mom.

Over Saturday and Sunday we drove together to Dallas to pick up the puppy, and then it was onward to Colorado to be back in time for the delivery of our foal.

As I write this, we are monitoring our “foal-watch” cameras, which livestream the mare’s activity in her stall.

Last year in our reproductive physiology class, we learned that labor has three stages. In the first stage, the fetus becomes positioned for birth; in the second stage, the fetus is delivered; and in the third stage, the placenta is expelled.

Chelsea Horse Delivery
A 4-year-old Chelsea and her mother celebrate the delivery of a foal in 1994.

It is important to actively monitor all of these stages for the health of the mother and the baby.

As we watch our livestream feed, my mom and I observe the restless behavior consistent with Stage 1, and as this progresses toward Stage 2, we will head to the barn to be present for the birth and to provide assistance as needed.

My mom has raised many horses over the years, but the anticipation for this part of the journey never diminishes!

In addition to reveling relaxing at my family’s newly completed ranch home, this summer I will also be expanding my veterinary training at a nearby research facility.

In between honing my diagnostic and treatment skills, I will be cuddling all of our cats, dogs, horses, and even chickens in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. It’s sure to be a fulfilling summer!

Summer Aspirations

Chelsea B.A few days ago, six fellow classmates and I gathered to have a catered lunch from a College Station favorite, Blue Baker, with our three faculty mentors. Every now and then we meet to discuss current happenings in the vet school and receive some sage advice about developing our future careers. On this occasion, being mid-semester, spring break and summer plans were big topics of conversation.

Most of us are planning on catching up on sleep and TV shows during our Spring Break week, but a few relayed some exciting travel plans for sunny destinations; conversely, I know quite a few students and friends who are choosing snow for their week away.

As for me, the mountains will have to wait until summer, when I plan to stop by my parents’ home in Colorado before hopefully heading off to a veterinary student internship!

Last summer, I spent the majority of my time at home in Colorado, helping out with my family’s ever-growing ranch of animals and getting some valuable shadowing experience in equine sports medicine. I’ve been an avid equestrian since I was in diapers and learning more about some of the injuries horses sustain from show jumping and dressage has been a longtime interest.

Since last fall, however, I’ve been contemplating what to do with this summer, and in January, I took the plunge into preparing applications for what I call my “oddball interest”—primate medicine. I was first exposed to the study of primates as an undergraduate, researching a variety of social and cognitive behaviors in capuchins and hamadryas baboons that were housed on my school’s campus. I found it incredibly fascinating and ever since have wanted to explore the veterinarian’s role in caring for these species.

When most people hear primates, they think of zoo medicine; however, primates fill a huge area of regulated laboratory research. Subsequently, veterinarians are utilized to help manage their care and headline study design and publication. This practice is incredibly important in terms of understanding mechanisms of disease and improving treatments for everything from infectious organisms to pathologic disorders of the heart, all of which can be applicable to human medicine.

My goal for this summer is to receive mentorship from practicing board-certified laboratory animal veterinary specialists to better learn about the ins and outs of this career path. I reached out to four institutions with programs specifically designed for veterinary students interested in learning more about primate medicine and research. Each program had slightly different requirements, and I felt like I was applying to vet school all over again! Preparing a resume, writing personal statements to fit the individual programs, asking trusted individuals for letters of recommendation, and then waiting, waiting, waiting for news….

Fortunately, I have just heard back from the first of the four, with an offer to interview over spring break! I am incredibly excited; so please keep your fingers crossed for me!

New Year, New Leader

Chelsea B.Welcome back to another year at Texas A&M’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences!

Professional DVM students returned to classes on Aug. 21. This is a special year on many accounts. We have officially been in our new Veterinary & Biomedical Education Complex (VBEC) for one full year, and the college is entering its second century of educating veterinary professional students. The DVM Class of 2021 has a revamped curriculum that prioritizes the hands-on clinical aptitude and communication skills that underscore the core competencies of a veterinarian. Furthermore, our fourth-year veterinary students, the Class of 2018, are pioneering expanded clinical tracks in our teaching hospitals, which will benefit their post-graduation career interests.

New opportunities are constantly being introduced within the CVM, including my position as Lead Student Ambassador of the CVM Tours Program. I took over for my predecessor, Clarissa, in May, when she moved into her fourth-year clinical rotations. Since then, I have been learning the ropes of how to manage the many tour requests our college receives.

We aim to provide tours Monday through Saturday (daily at noon and 3:30 p.m., and at 10:30 a.m. on Saturdays) throughout our academic semesters and breaks. Visitors of all types are encouraged to view our renowned facilities. Just in the past few months we’ve given tours to summer camps, FFA clubs, school guidance counselors, newly-admitted students, applicants, alumni, and more! Those interested can visit our website, where there is a self-registration page. Large groups work with me, directly, to set up alternative times and additional tour guides. We also are able to provide students with contact information for our DVM and BIMS program advisers.

As you can imagine, arranging these events takes a great deal of organization—both with the groups attending, as well as with the student ambassadors leading the tours. I’ve learned how to use new software, delegate with others, and manage communication efforts with various personnel across the college and hospitals to ensure that our guests receive the best behind-the-scenes experience.

It’s important to remember the privilege that is touring a hospital setting. The CVM Tours Program invites current undergraduate biomedical science majors and professional DVM students to become ambassadors, who showcase the advances of our interdisciplinary field, from the human-animal bond to translational medicine. To have been selected to be a student at this institution is a great honor in itself. It is even more humbling to have been selected as a representative of an institution that has successfully operated for more than 100 years.

This term we have a record 25 BIMS and VetMed ambassadors on staff. While we all learn the same route, each tour guide delivers a unique perspective on the Aggie student experience and the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospitals (VMTH). Whether you’re hoping to attend A&M for college, veterinary school, or graduate school, our ambassadors can help give you insight into all of the attractions of Texas A&M’s College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences!

Using Technology to Enrich Veterinary Education

When you visit the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM), you will be provided a rich behind-the-scenes look at the veterinary school experience. In past years, student ambassadors have been able to discuss with our visitors some of the creative teaching methods that instructors utilize in the classroom, but now we can actively showcase these technological tools thanks to the purpose-built expansions found in our new Veterinary and Biomedical Educational Complex (VBEC).

One such expansion can be seen in the Center for Educational Technologies (CET), a special department in the CVM with an imperative mission to create innovative teaching materials for the veterinary community on campus and beyond. Some of their incredible projects include 3D videos of surgical procedures, online teaching modules for practical veterinary skills (such as learning suture patterns and identifying different classes of heart murmurs), and durable water-repellent veterinary field manuals. Upon seeing some of these educational resources on a recent tour, one of our visitors remarked, “We certainly didn’t have that when I was in veterinary school!”

The CET is also invested in designing and acquiring software that can help both our current students and hospital clients. Their computer tablets can be manipulated 360 degrees to see exactly what each member of a veterinary team does to successfully treat an animal requiring a surgical procedure. Students can visualize the roles of the surgeon and support staff through the preparation and completion of a procedure, second-by-second and angle-by-angle. This helps increase a student’s confidence for when he or she takes the next step in practicing essential surgical skills. Additionally, these model videos can help clarify questions about how certain surgeries are actually performed, benefitting clients who come to our small and large animal hospitals. Many clients have expressed gratitude towards veterinarians and students who take the time to demystify what steps are taken to help treat their pets. Therefore, the CET provides methods to bridge educational gaps from all perspectives in the veterinary field.

As you can see, the CVM is investing in transformative teaching methods. What’s more is that the CET is not the only department seeking unique ways to reach students of all learning styles. We have faculty keen on developing animal simulation models, online learning exercises geared toward visual learners, and client-physician communication practice, all of which help prepare veterinary students to be the best doctors possible by the time they graduate. We are incredibly lucky to learn within such a diverse curriculum.

If you are interested in learning more about the Center for Educational Technologies and its innovations, please visit:

Something Familiar

Second semester of first year is well underway, now that our class has completed three exams. It’s easy to get bogged down in the details of a renal nephron or all of the different strains of E. coli that can cause disease in domestic animals. But, some of the best moments of the day come about when a classmate who can talk you through a mind-boggling neurology concept is suddenly stumped when you describe to them the difference between a chestnut and a bay horse. To be perfectly honest, equine terminology can be a little out-there for people without that background. I certainly haven’t yet learned all there is to know about food animal breeds and colors—although that exam is just around the corner!

But, the beauty of veterinary school is that all kinds of students come in with a variety of experiences with different species and specialty interests. Together we guide our peers through the learning curve associated with each topic and ultimately come out better communicators with more empathy about traversing into unknown fields of study.

In addition to looking for moments to help others expand their husbandry skills and general knowledge, I’ve found that we all get an exquisite feeling of affirmation when a professor mentions a clinical scenario with which we’ve had direct experience. Lately for me that has occurred in large animal anatomy lectures centered equine dental issues. In one lecture we discussed the importance of understanding how the sinuses of the skull communicate, or connect, with each other. This is especially important for upper molars, or cheek teeth. I suddenly perked up at the mention of this topic because it was actually a huge concern for one of my mother’s horses that had sustained fractured teeth a few years ago. I remember listening to the clinicians describe the different treatment options depending on how far up the fracture went up the tooth and how this affected the prognosis for my mother’s horse. Fortunately for him, everything turned out fine, minus a few removed cheek teeth.

Fortunately for me, having a direct connection to an important clinical concept has made learning the material more approachable and enjoyable. For this reason it is so important to take breaks from a hectic study schedule–whether you’re a pre-veterinary or a veterinary student–in order to spend a few hours shadowing clinicians on real cases, asking questions, and expanding your practical knowledge. You never know what it might relate to in the future or if your experience might help explain a concept to a friend. Seeking out something familiar in a sea of novel words and ideas certainly makes navigating the waters of veterinary school a little bit easier!

Finding the Joy: One Saturday at a Time

As first-year veterinary students, one of the most important things we can do to unwind is “find the joy.” This phrase lingers in the back of our minds as we cycle through the seemingly endless supply of course objectives that outline our preparations for anatomy, histology, physiology, and immunology exams. While it’s necessary to hone in on these subjects and ensure we understand the fundamental topics that underscore clinical medicine, it’s just as important to take a step back and remind ourselves of what intrigued us about a veterinary career in the first place.

Participating in clubs is one of the best ways to remind myself of the fascination I have for this field and the variety of work that can be done by a veterinarian. My undergraduate degree largely focused on primate behavior, so I was especially excited to participate in the Saturday trips offered by the Laboratory Animal Medicine club this semester. So far, I have been able to get a behind-the-scenes tour of Houston Zoo’s new western lowland gorilla habitat and meet the veterinarians responsible for the variety of animals in their care. Zoo medicine is full of creative solutions for delivering medication, taking radiographs, and preparing animals for surgery that may be as small as a gecko or as a grand as an elephant. Furthermore, many of the animals that came out of the entertainment industry or improper living conditions now receive better welfare from the rehabilitation and enrichment activities that the zoo veterinarians and staff can provide.

On another Saturday trip I was fortunate to tour M.D. Anderson’s Michael E. Keeling Center for Comparative Medicine and Research in Bastrop, Texas. This facility houses owl monkeys, squirrel monkeys, rhesus macaques, and chimpanzees that aid in the study of human medicine that often translates back into veterinary medicine. The primates live in state of the art enclosures with teams of individuals devoted to their wellbeing and enrichment. We even learned that the chimpanzees regularly anticipate the day the watermelon truck arrives! The veterinary and human medical researchers at this center work together to promote One Health, a perspective that integrates animal, human, and environmental health for the betterment of our world as a whole. A career in regulatory or laboratory animal medicine provides a vital role for veterinarians in the process of developing vaccines, cancer treatments, and various medical procedures that save the lives of countless individuals. I found this trip incredibly affirming to observe how a veterinarian can contribute to the wellness of animals that ultimately contribute to the health of people and the environments in which we live.

As I said before, the demands of a professional program can be consuming, which is why it’s so important to take a moment—or a weekend—to remind ourselves of the inspiration behind this career, and the good that results from a veterinarian’s commitment to the well-being of animals that shape our lives.