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!

Training with the VET

Mikaela at VET annual exercise
Mikaela (far left) and her peers—Emily, Luke, and Katlyn—feeling like astronauts as they donned the personal protection equipment the VET occasionally uses during deployments

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to participate in the Veterinary Emergency Team’s (VET) annual exercise. It involved veterinarians, technicians, and other College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM) faculty, staff, and alumni all coming together to assist in a mock disaster situation.The scenario for the three-day event involved two different explosions in South Texas. We “deployed” in smaller (strike) teams, made our way to the disaster sites, and then set up the VET trailers (mobile medical platforms) they use during actual deployments.

Mock cases would come in over the radio and teams would walk through how they would handle each situation and treat the cases, some of which involved, cats, dogs, horses, and cattle. You have to be ready for anything in these types of situations, which is why practicing is so important.

You also have to approach them differently than an everyday clinic situation—you don’t have the same equipment or personnel, or the history of the animal. Some of the cases involved animals that were injured in the blast; some of them were animals that had been stranded and just needed help finding their owners. As you finished a case, a new case would come in.

I was the controller for my team, so my job was to give information about the patients as my team asked for it, including blood values, microchip information, and radiation readings (one scenario included an explosion at a nuclear power facility). It was an interesting situation to be in because I got to watch the teams work through each case and see the types of questions that the teams asked in each scenario.

At the end of the day, all of the teams came together for a debriefing.

We also got to practice putting on personal protective equipment (PPE), which are special hazard suits that protect you in scenarios that include known or unknown chemicals that you could be exposed to. I was able to learn how to put on the suit and felt like an astronaut!

Overall, it was a great day and I learned so much about how the VET works and responds in disaster situations.

A Different Story

The Story

Here is a little about me: I am a senior at Texas A&M University in the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM). I serve as a CVM Ambassador, a Regents’ Scholar, public relations officer for Ags of OAK (Open Acts of Kindness), the chair of TAMU’s Alternative Spring Break committee, and a first-generation college student.

As an end goal for my undergraduate years, I will run a marathon just four days before graduation! In addition to all of this, I am also a writer, a podcast lover, and huge fan of non-profit organizations. I strive to be a professional, I strive to work within non-profits, and I strive to write a book one day on my story.

Another Take

Chau and her momWhen I started my freshman year at Texas A&M, my mom began her own college experience in my hometown of Texarkana.

I am the youngest in my family, and to see my mother begin her ultimate goal is just one reason why she is my role model. When exam weeks approach, I get stressed, but my mom has always been my backbone for strength. English is not her first language, so the transition from small exchanges with friends to a classroom setting was drastic.

We both have our ups and downs throughout our journeys, but those are our constant reminders of the goals that drive us. My mom is an aspiring nurse. I am an aspiring therapist. These two pathways are semi-similar, and we have similar courses!

During my four years here, I have had nights that I FaceTimed with my mom to see how her classes are going. “Chau! I received a 90 on my anatomy quiz!”—I always smile ear-to-ear when I hear remarks like this.

These small moments and exchanges with my mother are the highlights of my days. These moments are simple, but my mom’s dedication to her work is truly inspiring to me.

During my time at TAMU, this story was not told, but this story is my constant motivation. I am optimistic because of my mom, and I strive for the same excellence she aims for in her studies. In two weeks, I get to graduate and I owe it to my inspiring mom, a great student.

Halfway There!

Rebecca in her white coat with family
Rebecca (third from the right) and her family, who flew in from California for the White Coat Ceremony on Friday

This past Friday, April 13, my fellow second-year veterinary students and I received our white coats! The White Coat Ceremony is a much-anticipated tradition that celebrates our “transition from classroom study to clinical work.” During the ceremony, our faculty mentors presented us with our coats as our loved ones proudly cheered. For some neat history of the White Coat Ceremony here at Texas A&M University, I encourage you to check out this link.

Receiving our white coats marks the halfway point of our veterinary school career. It’s absolutely crazy to think that I have already reached this point in my education. Looking back on the past eight years since I graduated from high school…yikes, what a journey! Veterinary school, and the path to getting here, has certainly held its fair share of challenges. Despite still having two more years to go, I can FINALLY see the light at the end of the tunnel and I feel so close to realizing my dream of becoming a dairy vet!All of my wonderful family flew out to College Station from California for the occasion. There is no doubt that I have been able to make it to this point thanks, in huge part, to their endless support and encouragement of my DVM pursuit, and it was so nice to take a break from school for a few days to enjoy having all of them here with me in town.

As a CVM ambassador, I love sharing this with prospective students who come to visit and tour the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. I understand how daunting eight years of schooling can be for a high school student interested in pursuing a career in veterinary medicine, and I empathize with college students who are trying to make their veterinary school application as great as it can be.

So, in these conversations, my message is always the same—time flies when you’re chasing after your dream; it’s not easy, but it’s worth it. In the blink of an eye and with some hard work, they’ll be receiving their very own white coat before they know it!

Finding the Joy

Michelle M.Vet school is a dream come true for all of the students currently enrolled in Texas A&M’s College of Veterinary Medicine!

Despite this, it can be easy to become bogged down in exams, personal struggles, and commitments, at times, especially at the end of the semester as finals approach. This is why since starting school, many of us have taken to heart a concept explained to us during our first-year orientation.

“Find the Joy” is a mantra that has been repeated more times than I can count. Whenever my class has been overwhelmed with a particularly challenging exam or week, someone has always reminded us to find the joy; it is a reminder to look at the little things in life that make you happy to bring you back to perspective that your struggles will pass and are not as insurmountable as you currently think they are. And that no matter what, there is joy in your life, if only you seek to find it.

Each semester, right before finals week, the Texas A&M chapter of the Student American Veterinary Association (SAVMA) hosts something called “Find the Joy” week. It is a series of events spanning over the course of a week specifically for the vet students. All of these events are free or discounted for the students as a way for them to relax and take a little bit of time being active, creative, or just away from their books.

I am currently the secretary of SAVMA and we just finished planning the events for this year’s “Find the Joy” week. The events this year range from a class at You Paint It, yoga, bingo, an escape room, ice skating, and more. I’m organizing the You Paint It class and am looking forward to relaxing with my classmates and showing just how horrible my artistic skills are. But it is in the name of “Find the Joy” and a good cause.

Innovation, Diversity, and Fourth Year

TaylorI attended part of the second annual Veterinary Innovation Summit (VIS) that was held over the weekend here at Texas A&M. Veterinarians, veterinary students, and other members of the veterinary industry from all over the United States descended upon the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences for three days to talk about the future of veterinary medicine and what we can do to advance the profession. There were talks and panel discussions on a variety of topics, including the human-animal bond in the 21st century, one health, on-demand veterinary services, telemedicine, and the future of practice models and ownership, to name a few.

I attended a panel discussion where the deans from Texas A&M, Florida, The Ohio State University, and UC-Davis veterinary schools discussed the different ways they are trying to better prepare their new graduates through their respective curricula. There were mentions of business courses, communications training, and other things of the like. But diversity was a common theme.

The deans discussed their commitment to the further diversification of their veterinary school classes. Diversifying the veterinary school classes can help to create even better veterinarians and vet clinic environments in the future, as people from a wide variety of backgrounds can all bring experiences and perspectives to the table. It will also help the veterinary profession to better serve a diverse group of people and their pets in our ever-diversifying country.

I think the VIS is a great networking event and a great way to gather up veterinarians, innovative technology, and other companies to exchange ideas and push the veterinary profession into the future!

On a side note, it is now only 28 short days until I start my clinical rotations as a fourth-year veterinary student!!! I really cannot believe how fast this year (and all of vet school) has flown by, and I am a bit intimidated by the responsibility that comes with being a fourth year. I’m slowly mentally preparing myself for the change to come and am SO excited to be done with the constant studying and exam-taking portion of my veterinary studies.

I’m especially excited for all of the hands-on learning I’ll get to do, new challenges I’ll face, and interacting with clients and patients!

Being Accepted into Vet School

Carter M.It is official: I have been accepted to the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine!

I am so overwhelmingly excited to be a part of the class of 2022. Come this May, I will be graduating with a degree in biomedical sciences and then in August I will start vet school.

I am excited to be graduating, but at the same time, I am not all that focused on it. For a lot of people, graduation is the end of it, but for me, I graduate and then move on to more schooling.

I think that on graduation day I will be really excited because all of my friends and family will be here celebrating. Up until then, though, vet school is really what is on my mind.

I was so happy when I found out I had been accepted, but then I had the realization of, “wow, I really have to do this now.” It has not even started yet and my mind is filled with so many different questions. I constantly think about what it is going to be like and if I am going to be able to handle it.

At the end of the day, I turn my focus back to the here and now. My main focus right now is learning as much as I can about physiology.

In going forward, I just focus on the fact that I have conquered a lot in my undergraduate years and I will continue to do what it takes to be successful.

Preparing for a White Coat

Brandi M.There are officially four more weeks of my second year of veterinary school! This easily has been the most challenging semester of my vet school career. And although I’m incredibly appreciative of all the information I’ve learned, I’m ready for a break.

It’s weird to think that this upcoming summer will be the last summer break of my life before I’m thrown into the adult world, with a full-time job, responsibilities, and all that jazz.

But in the meantime, I’m focusing on upcoming events like finals, summer plans, and White Coat Ceremony. The White Coat Ceremony, for the 2VMs, is next Friday (April 13)! It is a pretty big event, symbolizing our transition from the classroom to clinics, and I am SO. PUMPED.

It’s practically a graduation in the middle of our vet school career. People’s families are coming in, there will be tears and tons of photos, and also lots of traffic considering that it’ll be the same day as Ring Day on main campus. But, hey, the more the merrier right?

I’m sure we all are really looking forward to this, since we’re finishing up this aforementioned very difficult semester; the ceremony will probably feel like we’ve jumped another hurdle on a race that we’re running to become doctors.

I find it interesting that we have our White Coat Ceremony halfway through vet school, while a lot of other vet and medical schools have their ceremonies before starting school. I personally like having our ceremony halfway through, though, because I feel like I’ve worked so hard to earn this.

Maybe I’ll have a sense of achievement as I get to show off my fancy, new white coat to my family. Maybe I’m just overdramatizing this because I’m tired. Either way, I know I will be another step closer to achieving the goal I set for myself years ago—that of becoming a veterinarian.

Celebrating the Small Things

Caitlin O.Veterinary school is tough, but it is so worth it. The best part of school is getting to finally learn about what you have wanted to learn about for so long—veterinary medicine. When you can look at what you are learning and then apply it to something you have seen when you have shadowed or worked previously, it makes class so much fun.

After so many days of class and lab, though, vet school also can be exhausting. It is hard to maintain that same excitement you had during orientation; you forget to look at the things you are learning and see a clinical application. Instead, you see another topic to study before your first test.

One thing that I have learned from this year, my first in vet school, is to celebrate the small things. There are so many times when I wish that I had gotten a better grade on a test or that I had more time to sleep, but when I walk into school everyday and remind myself that I get to go to vet school, I have such a different outlook on the day; I remember that I want to be here and that this is getting me so much closer to getting into practice and seeing everything in person that I am currently learning.

When you look at your day, there are many small things to celebrate. Some of my favorite things are when we get out of class five minutes early or when it is a beautiful day outside and we get to sit in the courtyard for lunch. Another great day is when we don’t have to wear closed-toed shoes. Even getting the clicker questions right in class is something to celebrate.

I think my favorite thing to celebrate is when I get to the parking lot at the same time as my friends so we get to walk the eight minutes from our cars to the school together. It is so fun to see a friendly face before I even walk into the building, and it gives me time to hear about their lives or swap funny stories from the night before.

Celebrating the small things has helped me find vet school really enjoyable. There are late nights studying and difficult tests, but they are all worth it for the learning opportunities that I have. And that is the greatest thing of all to celebrate—I have wonderful learning opportunities because I am now in vet school, a place I have wanted to be my whole life.

A Big Saturday in Aggieland

March 24 was not a regular Saturday here in Aggieland. In addition to the veterinary students in the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences holding the 25th annual open house, it was also the day of one of my favorite annual service projects, The Big Event.

The Big Event is the largest one-day, student-run service project that allows us college students to say “thank you” to the residents of Bryan and College Station. Originally, The Big Event started at Texas A&M in the early 80s, but it has slowly spread to other schools across the country that participate in this project with us every year. This year, more than 20,000 Aggies came together for a fun-filled day of selfless service. These 20,000 Aggies registered with a group and then were assigned a site, tools, and specific tasks that the resident of that site is requesting.

This year, I was the job site leader for my small group of five. As site leader, I was in charge of checking my group in, checking out the required tools, and making sure everyone was making the most our this amazing experience.

The Big Event begins with a kickoff ceremony to get everyone hyped about helping the community. This year’s ceremony featured fire works, free food, and a send-off speech from new head football coach, Jimbo Fisher. After the ceremony, we all dispersed to stand in long lines for our tools and then shuffle over to our assigned resident.

My resident was a sweet 90-year-old grandma who lives by herself and, due to physical disabilities and a recently broken arm, had trouble with tending to her yard and reaching high places inside her house. So, our job was to lay down mulch, rake leaves, plant flowers, mow her lawn, organize her house, bring down dishes she couldn’t reach, and dust out her air vents and cabinets.

Because we were able to dedicate four hours to making her life a little easier, her yard looks amazing, with fresh mulch and flowers; her house is extremely clean; and she can finally use the supplies in her house that she couldn’t reach before. We were also able to re-organize the majority of her house so that she wouldn’t have to store things in places she couldn’t physically get to. She was extremely grateful and rewarded us for our hard work with amazing homemade pizza!

By the time I dropped off my group at their respective apartments and returned the tools, I was exhausted, covered in mosquito bites, and super sweaty. However, I was also happy and satisfied, as well. I got the amazing opportunity to get to help out the community that I live in and make a true difference in someone else’s life. The added job allowed me to have more responsibility than last year and more insight into group organization.

Overall, this year’s Big Event was a huge success! So many Aggies were able to help out the community through various chores and say “thank you” the most impactful way possible while representing the Aggie Core Values of unity and service!