Shaping My Future Self

Texas A&M presents great opportunities for its students, and majoring in biomedical sciences (BIMS) is one of them, because there are a variety of career-specific classes to take.

I am now beginning to take more classes geared toward veterinary medicine, since I am a pre-vet student. Majoring in biomedical sciences has allowed me to gain a great understanding of the basic sciences needed for a great academic foundation leading up to veterinary school.

One class, in particular, that I have really enjoyed taking this semester is “Animal Nutrition and Feeding,” since it really pertains to what I need to know for my future career. I initially entered this class thinking it was going to be difficult, but because of those basic science classes I’ve taken in the past, I more easily understand the basic concepts of this class, which makes it more enjoyable.

Aside from this particular class, Texas A&M offers many other similar classes students can take as a BIMS major that further expand our knowledge.

Aside from classes, there are also many other things to get involved in, such as student organizations or even intramural sports.

I recently joined an intramural soccer team for the first time since I arrived at Texas A&M, and although we’ve only had one game so far, it’s been a lot of fun to meet new people and play the sport I love to play again.

Joining an intramural team can serve as a way to relax and destress or simply just hang out with friends while being physically active. I have also found that sometimes it’s best for me to take some breaks to relax and get away from schoolwork for a bit and joining this team has allowed me to do that.

Another way I spend my time outside of classes and working on homework and such is through a student-run organization I’m a part of, Aggie Guide-Dogs and Service-Dogs (AGS).

As a pre-vet student, I especially enjoy interacting with animals, so this organization allows me to do a lot of that. Our organization allows students to train service dogs while also educating the public about the different types of service dogs there are.

Like the intramural soccer team, this organization gives me some time to get away from classwork and participate in an activity I particularly enjoy doing.

Many people have told me to enjoy the time I have as an undergraduate, so taking part in these campus activities and doing so with friends helps me to make the most of my time.

Although we are here for a great education, having fun is also an important part of the process. Personally, I think it’s really important for everybody to find some fun things to do while in college, because while education is a big part of the journey, having fun and putting yourself out there will also help in shaping your future self.

‘Conquering’ the Vet School

As a biomedical sciences major, I have had the opportunity to attend classes in these inspiring buildings since the first semester of my freshman year, which was an experience I never expected to have. I am on a pre-veterinary path and being able to learn in the very rooms I hope to attend veterinary school in has been really motivating and exciting.

The laboratories, lab equipment, and sometimes even professors are shared between the veterinary and BIMS students. As I walk into my microbiology lab, I am reminded of what all of my hard work is leading to; seeing the veterinary students outside in between their lectures gives me a glimpse into what their lives are like. Each time I take the journey on Bus 9 to this area of campus I feel blessed to have the opportunity to learn in this environment.

Recently, I took my dog Fender to A&M’s Small Animal Hospital. This was another unique experience that showed another side of the veterinary school. It was so neat hearing from the fourth-year veterinary student who was seeing my dog under the supervision of a veterinarian; it also was an educational experience for me—not to mention I got a 20 percent student discount!

I love how much of the veterinary school world I have been able to observe and learn from as an undergraduate.

Finally, as a BIMS Ambassador, I’ve been able to give tours of the veterinary school to prospective students. Every time I walk the halls and tell stories on tours, I can almost feel the years of history, knowledge, and discovery that live here.

It inspires me to keep pushing forward toward my goals, even when the journey becomes challenging at times. When I graduate, I hope I will be able to look back on these experiences and say “I came, I saw, I conquered.”

Back in Texas

Kimberly holding a goatI can’t believe I’m back in the United States!

Studying abroad in Costa Rica for four months really felt like a dream now that I’m looking back.

I experienced so many things there that I could have never experienced here in Texas: trudging through the rainforest, walking through so much rain that my rainboots filled up to the brim, seeing thousands of sea turtles come up to the beaches to lay their eggs, and so much more.

It’s hard to describe how wonderful studying abroad is, and despite its ups and downs, I loved studying in Costa Rica!

Holding a cup of coffeeIt feels weird that I’m here taking classes with hundreds of people in a classroom rather than the 12 people I’ve gotten close with during the trip.

It also feels weird that I’m not surrounded by the rainforest.

As much as I want to go back to Costa Rica, it wouldn’t be the same, since I would be considered a tourist rather than someone who has lived in Costa Rica for four months.

Plus, I really missed Vietnamese food, so I don’t think I’d be able to live there.

I definitely advise undergraduates to look into studying abroad because it really broadened my mind about what’s out there.

You’ll get to bond with people as you work together to overcome the struggles of studying abroad.

In addition, you’ll bond with the professors on your trip.

For BIMS students, I definitely recommend looking into the Costa Rica Biomedical Science Semester Abroad program.

The optional two-week shadowing is a major resume booster for anyone who’s looking into either veterinary or human medicine.

I hope that more people study abroad and get to experience the same feelings I did!

Looking into the Future

So, the good news is the semester is finally almost over! However, that also means I must make it through finals first.

The past couple of weeks have been extremely busy and filled with tons of information, but it’s all important to know for my future.

As I plan to attend veterinary school, I’m beginning to take more rigorous courses geared toward my specific career path, so my classes are getting more interesting than the typical core curriculum classes. I’m majoring in biomedical sciences, which helps to get a lot of the veterinary school prerequisites out of the way, but my schedule is always busy.

After this semester, I will have completed my first semester of my second year here at Texas A&M, and man, it’s been an experience. I’ve heard people say college is the best time of your life, and so far, it’s been really fun but full of busy schedules and lots of classes to study for.

With that said, it can get really busy when finals time comes around, since there’s so much to study. I enjoy the classes I’m taking, but as I’m sure a lot of people have heard, finals can be stressful for many people.

Although there’s so much to do at this time of the semester, it’s definitely doable if you don’t procrastinate. With there being several finals to study for, it helps to start studying early, rather than pulling all-nighters the night before the exams. I’ve tried studying both ways and quickly found out that I should start studying early so that I can actually understand the material for the test rather than cram the night before and remember only about half of it.

This can be one of the busiest times of the semester, but finding your groove ahead of time helps decrease the stress of studying. Just relax, take one day at a time, and everything will be OK.

Off-Campus Living and New Roommates

Erin H.I am finally a senior (WHOOP) and this is my first time living off campus.

For the first three years here at Texas A&M, I lived in the same residence hall with the same roommate. Fortunately, it was modular style, so it was bigger than some of the other dorms, but the kitchen was not very clean, the sharing spaces were messy, and there was not much privacy in the room itself. However, I lucked out because my roommate and I got along really well and we are still great friends.

While the living conditions were not great, the community and the friends I met made up for it.

I could not recommend enough, especially for freshmen, to live in the dorms their first year. Not only is being on campus much more convenient because of its proximity to dining places and classes, but it shapes you into the Aggie that everyone should strive for; you get involved in so many events on campus, learn about all the traditions, and are surrounded by peers to whom you can relate and connect.

But as three years came to an end, my roommate and I decided it was time to move on. We wanted to find a nice apartment with two other close friends and experience the off-campus living for ourselves.

Boy, has this been a learning curve.

Living with one other roommate was one thing but living with three other girls was an entirely different ball game. All four of us had different ideas of what we considered clean, figure out what temperature to set the thermostat, and establish common house rules…that change weekly.

Not only that, but we were all new to off-campus living so we had to adjust to waking up earlier to get to class on time and set aside time to make food like real adults.

What a time to be alive! I have to say…it is nice to have our own kitchen and our own rooms to crawl back to when we need some alone time, but most importantly, I love girls’ night whenever we get the chance to have one.

Recently, we had a new addition to the “family”…and his name is Khaki. My roommate adopted this Catahoula/Rhodesian Ridgeback mix at 3 months old, and he is one spoiled puppy. He has every toy you could ever imagine and better jackets and clothes than I will ever have, but that’s OK, because he deserves it.

Currently, he is being potty trained and learning new commands every day. He does make mistakes here and there, but he is the one of the most well-behaved puppies I have ever met. I always say he’s an old soul trapped in a little body. We can’t wait to see him grow into a big dog!

A ‘Major’ Decision

Linh N.This is my second year as a biomedical sciences (BIMS) major.

Up until the end of last summer, I thought medical school was what I wanted to pursue. Ever since high school, I’ve joined so many medical organizations and clubs to keep up with what’s going on in the field and learn more about it through other people.

My plan took a turn, however, when I went back to my motherland, Vietnam, for vacation and a shadowing opportunity. During winter break of my freshman year, since “shadowing” is not really a thing in Vietnam, my mom tried her best to get permission for me to get my shadowing hours done at one of the top hospitals there.

Even though it was a very great experience, I realized that I was not really passionate about it. I still love the idea of working in the hospital or clinic environment, where I get to help other people. However, I felt like something was missing; I didn’t feel super excited when I did my shadowing.

Last summer, I volunteered in the small adoptable dog area at the Houston SPCA. I had a chance to talk to a veterinarian and a veterinary anesthesiologist there and I never felt so excited and fascinated by listening to other people talking about their job and workplace.

My mom has always wanted me to become a doctor and I thought that was also what I wanted. But I know that deep down in my heart, I’ve always wanted to become a veterinarian.

I didn’t want to disappoint my mom so I kept it to myself and kept going forward as a pre-medical student until I got this job as a bio med ambassador. As I was shadowing other ambassadors on their tours, I got to see more than just the reception at the animal hospitals—I saw an operating surgery under a team of about 5-6 people, a veterinary dentist and his team treating a dog’s teeth while it was under anesthesia.

Seeing everyone work as a team to treat animals and talk to the animals’ owners about what’s going on with their pets, how their pets are feeling, and what they should do to help their pets feel better allowed me to picture myself in veterinarian’s position and that made me very excited.

I’ve also talked to some veterinary students and I realized that I’m actually more intrigued by our discussions about what they’re learning in veterinary school and some interesting things they’ve seen during their rotations or shadowing than listening to a discussion at a medical school presentation.

So, my second year as a biomedical sciences major will be a memorable mark on my journey—on in which I decided to pursue veterinary school and a veterinarian path.

Adventures in Puppy Sitting

Cora and Daisy
Extroverted Daisy, posing for a picture like a good girl

Anyone with a busy internship schedule understands the time and hard work put into these opportunities. Even during the summer, these internships—combined with classes, extracurricular activities, and other obligations—leave very little time remaining in BIMS students’ schedules, to look for a job that fits around your availability.

However, my luck came in the form of a Facebook post and pushed me into some form of an entrepreneurial venture I had never imagined—pet sitting!

My neighborhood’s community Facebook page has proved to be an efficient source for advertising yourself and your experiences. One day, a neighbor posted to our page asking for someone to care for their two dogs while they were away on vacation. Immediately, I was intrigued. Taking care of cute dogs and getting paid to do so? It can’t get much better than that!

Throughout the summer, I was able to fit in multiple families at a time. I quickly formed a routine of waking up early before my internship to attend to the various dogs. In the evening, I would return to the route of dogs I cared for. The days were long and often tiring, but the dogs made it all worth it.

I pet sat for more than 20 families during a few months. Typically, the dogs were friendly and energetic; they would welcome treats as warmly as they welcomed me. That is, until I met a black and white whippet named Gracie. She has a Border Collie-mix sister named Daisy, who was Gracie’s polar opposite, personality wise. Daisy was the first to greet me at the door and the first to beg for love and attention. Gracie was naturally scared of everything, particularly strangers. I knew I would have a hard time getting through to her, but I never realized how it would affect me.

Cora with Daisy playing
Gracie finally emerges to play with Cora!

The first few days I cared for Gracie, I spent hours sitting outside of her hiding place (her kennel) and slowly feeding her small pieces of treats. I thought I could lure her out of her kennel with food and show her I wouldn’t hurt her once she emerged. Every time I thought she trusted me, I would reach out to her, but she would quickly dart back inside. After days of doing this, I was at a loss of what to do. I could see deep inside her was a happy, playful dog; yet, I just wasn’t sure how to let her know she could show that side to me.

Finally, the treats and my patience won her over. It started with a few pats on the head, until eventually Gracie was jumping up and down on me, wanting me to play with her. Gracie’s trust in me meant so much more than I had anticipated that it would. In fact, Gracie reminded me of why I love animals so much. Once you prove they can trust you, they’ll love you forever.

Last summer, I gained great experience in animal handling and care. I had expected to learn about animals during my internship at a small animal hospital. Yet, I never knew I could learn so much about animals by simply caring for them.

More importantly, I didn’t know how much I could learn about myself.

A ‘Test’-y Situation

carter mcadooAs I’m writing this, I am finishing up my fifth week of classes in my first year of veterinary school.

At this point I have had an anatomy exam, a physiology exam, and my first immunology exam.  I am a little worn out, but the one thing that never fades is how much I am loving vet school. I have been working toward this goal my whole life and because of that I am truly enjoying my time.

The things we are learning have a new level of pertinence to them and I am trying to soak up as much as I can. We have had multiple opportunities to get hands-on experience with animals, which makes the whole process so much fun.

It is a lot of hard work being in vet school, but my experiences during my undergraduate career are helping me to be successful. Being a biomedical sciences student as an undergraduate, I learned how to effectively manage my time and focus on my studies. Taking classes like anatomy and physiology in my undergraduate days also set me up for success in my first graduate years. I am very happy that I made the choice, four years ago, to pursue a degree in biomedical sciences.

What it Means to be an Aggie

Priya at an Aggie Football GameIt’s that time of year again!

Texas A&M’s football season has kicked off and Saturdays are now reserved for watching the Aggies play their hearts out at Kyle Field or on TV if it’s an away game. The university has many traditions that have been organized and carried out throughout the years and one of the most treasured traditions that comes from football is the legacy of “The 12th Man.”

The 12th Man—what the student fan base is collectively known as—is a tradition and that came to be almost 100 years ago. On Jan. 2, 1922, Texas A&M was playing highly ranked Centre College at the Dixie Classic in Dallas. Not only were we losing, but our team was also plagued by multiple injuries that caused head coach Dana X. Bible to remove numerous players and their substitutes from the game. After halftime, Coach Bible noticed that the entire team was down to just 11 players and if just one more player had to be removed from the game, Texas A&M would have to forfeit to Centre College due to the lack of a full team.

It was at this moment that Coach Bible realized he needed a 12th man, someone who could step in and play when needed if another player were to be removed from the game. But Coach Bible was also aware that not every man knows how to play football so he couldn’t just pick a student at random and get ready and put on the uniform. Then, a light bulb flashed over his head and he remembered a current student and former football player who was sitting up in the press box. That student, E. King Gill. Gill, used to play for Coach Bible at Texas A&M but decided to take a break from the sport that season to focus more on basketball and baseball. Coach Bible quickly called Gill from the press box and asked him to suit up and be ready to enter the game. So, Gill wore previously injured Heine Weir’s uniform and stood on the sidelines as the 12th man of the football team.

At the end of the game, Texas A&M miraculously came out victorious against Centre College with a score of 22-14, and Gill never even had to run in to play in the game. However, we still honor him today because he was ready, waiting, and willing to play for his team if they needed him. Gill’s willingness to carry out the Aggie core value of selfless service in the football game, when his team needed him the most, has come to represent Texas A&M’s student section over the years and defines what it means to be a 12th Man.

kyle field gamedayAs a result, whether we win a game or simply run out of time (because Aggies never lose), you can always find the entire student section, rain or shine, standing throughout the game and yelling along with the Yell Leaders in support of our team and our university.

Said best by Texas A&M University itself, “The power of the 12th Man is echoed in the unity, the loyalty, and the willingness of Aggies to serve when called to so. And it is the reason that Texas A&M has earned a name that embraces Gill’s simple gesture of service: Home of the 12th Man.”

It’s hard to believe that I only have two more football seasons as current student before I start attending games as a former student! The legacy of The 12th Man is one of my favorite traditions at Texas A&M and a key factor that drew me to pursue an undergraduate career here all the way from Georgia. The traditions are what makes Texas A&M so unique from other schools, and I always feel so blessed to be a part of the Aggie family and to be able to call College Station home.

My Last Blog

AlexAs finals week began for us undergraduates, most of us spent all of our time on studying, in hopes of squeezing the best possible grade out of every class. This finals week was a little different for me than my previous experiences—it is my final semester as an undergraduate.

So, in addition to studying, I found myself reflecting on my time as an undergraduate.

Like most students, beyond the academics, our time as undergraduates allowed us to develop as individuals and make long-lasting memories.

Not only has this been my last week of my undergraduate studies, but this also is my last blog as a student ambassador for the College of Vetrinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM). One of the best experiences of my undergraduate career has been my time as a student ambassador.

This job has allowed me to experience a perspective of this university I wouldn’t have had otherwise. I’ve seen high school and prospective veterinary students respond positively to our program here at the CVM. To see others become excited at the potential of attending our university has been a privilege, one that I will remember fondly; after being here for a few years, we can lose perspective on the opportunities we have here, and it’s always nice to be reminded of this.

While I will no longer be a student ambassador, fortunately, I’ve been accepted into Texas A&M’s Master of Public Health degree program at our School of Public Health. This means that despite moving on from my time as an undergraduate, I will still be close to our great college. In fact, I’ll only be across the street.

I wish the best to all current and prospective students. I hope to see you around.