Coming Together for Brooke

As a second-year veterinary school student, I think I can speak for everyone when I say that veterinary school has a funny way of warping your priorities in life.

With the high volume of information and stress that students are typically under, it’s very easy to let things like sleep, self-care, and maintaining relationships fall to the wayside in favor of reviewing just one more lecture or finishing just one more assignment until you look up to find that it’s midnight.

This was the unfortunate cycle I found myself in just two weeks ago as I tried to catch up on school after missing a week because of the flu. I likely would’ve continued this way until at least Spring Break.

However, life had other plans.

Friday, Feb. 21, found me not carefully following my meticulous study schedule like I had planned for the weekend but holding the hand of my best friend in the emergency room.

She had been experiencing shortness of breath for a couple of weeks but, as we all do, decided to attempt to manage her symptoms the best she could until we had a break in exams. If she was still experiencing issues at that point, she would go to the doctor to see about getting treatment, since it was more likely something like bronchitis rather than allergies.

Neither of us could have ever been prepared when the doctor informed us they had found a mass roughly the size of an orange sitting in the center of her chest and the cause for the shortness of breath she was experiencing was likely cancer.

In that single instance, my priorities completely rearranged.

No longer was I worried about the upcoming assignment that was due or catching up. My No. 1 priority became doing anything and everything I could to support my best friend.

The next 48 hours were a blur of family, meetings with doctors, discussing hospital possibilities, and developing a plan of action. As we progressed through the week, faculty members and our classmates were informed of the events of the weekend.

I am still in awe of the response. I watched as my classmates completely reorganized their lives, and the hours that were normally spent secluding ourselves in a study bubble were readily forgotten in favor of organizing events to support my best friend, which became top priority.

The way our CVM family has come together to support one of our own has been an amazing reminder that we are all here for the same dream, but we can’t accomplish that dream alone. Dreams and goals are so important, but they are nothing compared to the people beside us.

May you all remember to look up from the books once awhile and take in the life around you…because life comes at you fast.

 

Finding a New Home

This summer, I went on an adventure. Really, I went on many adventures, but one of them was completely veterinary related and I loved it a lot.

To better understand my adventure, you should know that I would like to move to the mountains when I graduate. I love the mountains and snow, and I don’t like it being summer until October.

So, this summer, I decided that I should try to figure out where I want to live when I graduate.

The best thing about being a veterinarian is that the entire U.S. is open to you when you graduate—everywhere needs a vet.

The worst thing about being a veterinarian is that if you have no idea where you want to live, it is hard to narrow it down—the entire country is open to you. I had narrowed it to the mountains, but there are so many mountains, so I needed to figure out more.

On July 5, I loaded up my car and started my three-day solo road trip to Idaho. Solo road trips might not be everyone’s favorite thing, but I love them.

I downloaded some books on tape and drove through areas of the U.S. that I had never been to before, like Utah and northern New Mexico. It was quite an adventure, and I am grateful that my 21-year-old car made it to Idaho. I think I worried my parents, but I was having a great time.

In Idaho, I rode with a few dairy veterinarians in the area that I was in. I had never been exposed to dairy medicine, so it was quite a new experience.

I got to see the difference in working for an operation versus having many large dairies as clients. I also had the opportunity to work with pregnant cows and got to see what the role of the veterinarian was in large-scale operations. It was a great experience that opened my eyes to the different roles of vets in different industries.

I was only in Idaho for a week, so after that week was done, I packed up my car again and drove to Bozeman, Montana, where I spent two weeks at a clinic.

Let me tell you, Bozeman is gorgeous. I loved it there. I would wake up in the mornings, and it would be 45 degrees. To put that in perspective, it is the middle of October in Texas, and I don’t think that is has gotten into the 40s yet.

I really enjoyed the clinic in Bozeman. They were willing to teach me and give me opportunities to work with them.

I really appreciate the veterinary field as a whole because most vets are willing to teach; that means that as students, we have the unique opportunity to reinforce what we are learning in class and learn about what it will be like when we graduate.

My adventure ended with my dad flying to Bozeman and driving to Yellowstone with me. We camped and hiked and saw one of the most beautiful places that I have ever been. The bison that were on the side of the road were also great!

We stayed for three days, and I was sad when we had to leave. I hope to move somewhere that will allow more access to gorgeous outdoor scenery like that.

My adventure ended on July 31 when we got home. I drove 4,330 miles in 26 days on this trip. I had so much fun, and I am so grateful for the time that veterinary students get off during the summer, which allows us to have time to choose what we want to do, whether it is veterinary related or not.

This was my last summer off before I graduate because next summer, I will be in fourth year, when we spend an entire calendar year working through the different services in the Small and Large Animal Hospitals.

I will look back on this adventure fondly, and, thankfully, I think it helped serve the purpose of learning more about the veterinary field and about where I want to move.

 

A Puppy Before Veterinary School

Allie stands in a doorway holding her puppy Mack
Allie and Mack on the first day of veterinary school

I always wanted a dog I could call my own.

Growing up, I had family dogs that I loved but none that were actually mine. During my undergraduate years, I thought about getting a dog but was never able to because I lived in homes that did not allow pets.

However, after graduating in December, I stayed in College Station, and while I was working at a local veterinary clinic, I began constantly looking at shelters’ websites for dogs available for adoption, excited for the opportunity to adopt one once I moved.

Toward the end of May, a stray puppy was brought into my clinic by a client who thought the puppy had been hit by a car. Luckily, he was perfectly fine and was not actually injured but instead was just in shock.

The person who brought him in was unable to keep him, so we planned to have him stay at the clinic until we were able to find a home for him. After spending a few days with the puppy, though, I absolutely fell in love and knew I had to take him home with me.

Mack wears a graduation cap and blue bandana that says "Puppy Grad!"
Mack graduates from puppy class

It felt like it was fate—he had come to me right before I had to move and was needing a good, loving home. I decided to take him and I ended up naming him Mack, like the truck, because I thought it was funny that the way he came to me was because he was thought to have been hit by a car or truck.

But then I became nervous about starting my first semester of veterinary school with a young puppy. I knew I could handle it and that, in the end, it would work out, so, I worked with Mack all summer, potty training him, getting him used to what my school schedule would be, and doing puppy training classes. He quickly picked up a lot of tricks, including sit, lay down, wait, shake, spin, pray, weave, and kiss.

Once school rolled around, he was about 6 months old and, thankfully, was potty and crate trained by that time.

I was still worried about leaving him during school, but he has done fantastic and is used to our schedule now—getting out of bed when I’m done getting ready for class and sleeping in with me on the weekends. Sometimes it can be stressful having such a young dog that needs attention, but in the end, I think adopting Mack was one of the best decisions I have made in my life.

Mack sits in grass wearing an American flag bow tie
Mack on the 4th of July

It makes me really happy to come home to a wagging tail and to be able to de-stress by playing with him and walking him in the evenings. It also helps that my roommates have dogs that he can play with, too, if I am busy with studying that day and don’t have a lot of time to play with him.

I don’t think having a young dog when starting veterinary school is a good idea for everyone, but I don’t at all regret taking him home, and I would recommend to those going to veterinary school to have a furry friend; it really is so nice having a dog there to cuddle with and lift your spirits after a long, hard day at school.

Mack is such a sweet puppy with an attitude and mind of his own that makes me both laugh and occasionally be mad at the same time. Not only do I now have a patient I can practice on, but I have a furry friend to help me emotionally survive veterinary school and beyond.

Feeling Like an Aggie

It’s hard to believe classes started a month ago. It almost feels like it was only yesterday that I was on Lake Erie, enjoying the nice weather.

The transition from Michigan to Texas was rough, but I feel I am handling it well. I have at Constance V.least one day a week that I devote to calling my family or friends from my hometown.

I’m still trying to perfect it, but I feel that, overall, I’m handling it well.

Helping with that have been the many amazing people I’ve met and the routine I have established with some friends. To take a break from school, for example, we have a list of local restaurants that we are interested in eating at, and every Sunday, we go to a different one.

I’m also trying to get involved in some of the different clubs the college has to offer. Currently, I am signed up for the Student Veterinary Response Team (SVRT) and the internal medicine and theriology clubs.

I’m still working on the right balance for school and social life, but so far it seems I’ve been doing well.

I’m very grateful to all of the second-year veterinary students (2VMs) whom I have meet so far. They have all been so willing to answer any of my questions, no matter how small.

I’m really starting to feel a part of the Aggie family, and I happy about my choice of school. Now it’s time to go to studying for the upcoming anatomy test.

Summer in the Panhandle

Ashlee “on the job” during her summer externship through the Veterinary Education Research Outreach (VERO) at West Texas A&M University.

This summer I had the opportunity to do an externship close to home and apply the knowledge from my first year of veterinary school.

I joined in on the Veterinary Education Research Outreach (VERO) externship program at West Texas A&M University that is offered for second- and third-year veterinary students. During this time I worked closely with Dr. Dan Posey, clinical professor of veterinary science and the academic coordinator of the VERO program, who provided more opportunities than I could experience in one summer.

Though I am from the area, this was a new experience for me because it was more focused on the veterinary side of the industries available there. 

Ashlee is teaching a 4-H student how to do a physical exam on a dog.

Every new experience I have makes me more excited for my future as a veterinarian, and this one was no exception.
Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in school, but these opportunities outside of class put everything into perspective.

Even with only one year under my belt, I was able to talk through diagnostics, surgery approaches, and treatment plans without feeling like I was listening to a foreign language. I had the privilege of teaching 4-H veterinary science students how to perform a physical exam on a dog, horse, and cow.

Now, beginning my second year, I have already applied the things I learned this summer, and I know I can expand on the areas I didn’t fully understand.

Ashlee is doing physical exam on a cow.

Every day was different, just like it will be in a mixed animal practice, and if I enjoy each day and challenge as much as I did this summer, I don’t think I will work a day in my life.

Leading the Way as Veterinary School Gets Back in Full Swing

Veterinary students returned to our classes last Monday, Aug. 19, and with the new school brings excitement, challenges, and returning friends and classmates. This school year is my second in the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) program, and it has brought and will continue to bring new opportunities for myself and others to learn and grow in our future profession.

This past summer, I had the opportunity to explore new and exciting facets of the veterinary profession by attending the Society for Theriogenology conference in Savannah, Georgia, and presenting a student case study about stallion subfertility (whether the stallion is fertile).

Additionally, I was able to complete three externships—one at an emergency equine facility in Central Texas, one at a local mixed animal practice, and the last in the clinical pathology department here at Texas A&M University.

In my time between externships, I enjoyed working back home at Top Flight Farms, a breeder of champion Dutch Warmblood sport horses, where I was there to welcome the newest member to the farm, “Ode to Joy.”

I also had an amazing opportunity this summer to step into my new role as the lead ambassador for the CVM Tours program! My predecessor, Chelsea, is now in her fourth and final year in the DVM program and is hard at work in clinical rotations. Since May, I have been working hard to fill her shoes, learn the behind-the-scenes ropes of the CVM Ambassador program, and step up to the task.

As lead ambassador, I work with the many visitors and groups that come to our college every year to help them schedule tours, as well as work with our many departments within the college to accommodate any guests they receive. The CVM works effortlessly to accommodate all of our visitors, and by offering three tours a day during the semester, we were able to welcome more than 5,000 visitors in more than 500 tours this last year alone!

This fall semester we have an outstanding 43 ambassadors, including a diverse group of 17 biomedical sciences (BIMS) undergraduate majors and 27 professional students from within the DVM program. Our schedule for the fall is set and we will be offering three tours a day, Monday through Friday, and on Saturday mornings through December.

The ambassador program is a vital part of the CVM culture and we are often the first face you see when stepping through our doors. With the semester gearing up, I am ready, excited, and looking forward to taking the role of lead CVM ambassador and seeing what the CVM Ambassador program will achieve!

Wrapping up my First Year

Janelle M.Summer is here, and I can proudly say that I have finished one year of veterinary school! The first two semesters have flown by and, yet, they feel as if they took forever, as well.

After my friends and fellow classmates finished our last final on May 3, it finally hit us that we have completed our hardest school year. What felt “endless” had finally come to a finality, and we were in shock that our life-altering education had reached a moment of pause and rest.

Now, we have reached the months during which we can fully gel and absorb all that we learned.

I’ve gained so much knowledge and experience, and I didn’t do it alone. My class of 2022 has always felt like a unit, and I feel a bit sad about not seeing my unit day-to-day during these couple of months.

We did wish each other a wonderful and, more importantly, restful summer, but a few of us are working, myself included, while others are pursuing internships or going home to relax with family. Nonetheless, College Station will not be the same once everyone leaves this week.

My personal plans include working in the Small Animal Hospital and I’m so thrilled to apply all that I learned into a clinical setting. Being able to perform blood draws and catheters and take fluid rates and dosages hardly touches the number of skills I’ve gained this year, but it brings me closer to the professional that I aim to be after these couple of years.

My confidence level has soared further than I could have believed possible and I’m pumped to be working in the animal hospital.

Besides that, I will do more relaxing activities, too, this summer!

Two weekends of Schlitterbahn with the family may just do the trick with this Texas summer heat. Maybe going to a few reunions with some of my old friends who pulled through with me during our undergraduate years. It’s hard to believe I haven’t seen some of my friends since 2016.

This August, I plan having some me time and focusing on replenishing my energy for fall semester. It’s sort of crazy for me to already be considering my plans with next semester but I am honestly pumped to start as a second year.

It will come sooner than expected, but I’ll be ready for it, after, of course, I enjoy a little vacation time.

A Well-Deserved Summer

Ashlee A.As I write this entry, I am learning how it feels to make my own schedule after finishing my first year of veterinary school!

This year I have learned so much about veterinary medicine and, especially, myself.

This summer I plan to enjoy time with family, visit different veterinary practices, and help with a few research projects while applying all of the knowledge that I’ve gained this year.

In first year, we have taken almost 50 exams over many hours of lectures and labs, so it’s very easy to feel lost, defeated, and exhausted.

However, we have learned much more than we ever thought we could, and we know how to apply it.

Looking back on this quick year I am so proud of myself and my classmates for the things we have accomplished.

We’ve learned how important it is to learn and retain base veterinary information, we are a network of support for each other, and we are one-fourth of the way to being doctors!

I am excited to return as a 2VM and build on this foundation, but I’m thankful for a well-deserved summer.

Summer Plans

Hannah JSummer is so close I can almost taste it! This semester I will be finishing up my sophomore year at Texas A&M as a biomedical sciences (BIMS) major, and looking back, I just can’t believe how incredibly fast it has gone by.

A piece of advice that I would give to any student starting college would be to make every semester count. Get involved in things you love doing and gain as many new experiences as possible.

That’s something I plan to do this summer!

Angelica, a fellow Ambassador, and I will be leaving the United States in a little over a week to travel to South Africa! Ever since I was a child, going to Africa has always been something I knew I wanted to do, specifically to be able to interact with the wildlife there.

Angelica and I heard about a program through Pre-Vet Society that offers a two-week trip to Chinsta, South Africa, that enables us to have this experience.

The program is offered to any pre-vet student from anywhere in the world! It will be exciting to meet other students from different countries who are also interested in veterinary medicine.

The program is split into three parts, each working with different animals, including wildlife such as zebras, antelopes, and giraffes and at the zoo located close to town; cattle and equine; and small animals at a few clinics in the area.

We have known we wanted to go on this trip for probably over a year now and I can’t believe it is finally almost upon us!

Neither Angelica nor I have ever traveled outside of the country before, and there was a lot to do in order to be prepared for the trip. We had to get our passports, book our flights, and receive the recommended vaccinations, as well as buy all the recommended items for the trip.

The travel time to Chinsta will be quite long—in total, about 25 hours! South Africa is also seven hours ahead of Texas, so I’m sure we will be facing quite a bit of jet lag!

Since it will be the first time out of the country for the both of us, we plan to document every detail we can!

I bought a Nikon camera last summer and will bring it with me on the trip with. I love using it and am really into photography; I even joined the photography club this past year!

Angelica also bought a camera recently that she plans to take on the trip! We hope to take photographs of the wonderful animals we see, as well as the beautiful landscape. Chinsta is located close to the coast, so we may even get to visit the ocean!

It will be fall time there, so we are planning to dress in layers that we can take off as it gets warmer as the day goes on. It will be strange to go from this Texas heat to cooler weather and then come right back.

I am glad not to be taking any classes this summer and plan to come back home and work at the veterinary clinic I worked at in high school for the rest of my summer break.

I wish you all a relaxing summer and hope to share with you all the fun I will have on my trip!

 

‘Final’ Motivation

It’s that time of the semester! The time where class days are dwindling and stress levels are growing.

Madelaine and an alpaca at a Pre-Vet Society event
Madelaine and an alpaca at a Pre-Vet Society event

Finals can be a little overwhelming, but the excitement of summer is a great source of motivation. My summer plans will be keeping me very busy; I’m really looking forward to all the different opportunities ahead of me.

Among those opportunities, I will be participating in a study abroad program through which I will spend four weeks in Thailand. I am beyond excited!

We will spend each week in a different region of Thailand as we gain a better understanding of how animal, human, and environmental health interact. I will have the opportunity to shadow a veterinarian at an elephant sanctuary, explore a new culture, and help with coral reef restoration.

This trip is going to be something I will never forget, and I am so excited to gain a broader view of veterinary medicine.

When I get back from my trip abroad, reality will settle in and it will be time to apply to veterinary school.

It is both exciting and terrifying to think about. I can’t believe how quickly my time at A&M has flown by.

The pre-veterinary resources here at A&M have already helped me so much in this process.

Recently I attended an application workshop that gave me a better understanding of the online application.

Fender smiles for the camera.
Fender smiles for the camera.

The TAMU Pre-Vet Society also has given me very unique animal experience that I never expected to receive. For example, I have been able to volunteer at alpaca farms, attend equine clinics, and help in the exotics room at Vet School Open House.

I’m very thankful that I am not going through this process alone. Applying to vet school is going to be nerve racking but I am excited to see where it takes me.

But before I can step into summer I have to face my final exams.

I am trying my best to be diligent and finish this semester strong. Things that keep me grounded include my friends, family and, especially, my dog, Fender.

Although the stress of finals is upon me, I know there is an end in sight, and I am hopeful that all of this hard work will be worth it.