Relaxing in Arizona for Spring Break

By Maria S., ’26, B.S. in Biomedical Sciences student

A college student in snowboarding gear posing with their board at the bottom of a snowy slope.

Taking a break from university life and exams is refreshing every once in a while. This spring break, a step into nature was necessary, so I traveled with friends to Arizona for snowboarding and visiting the Grand Canyon. 

The week started with a 16-hour road trip, most of those spent crossing Texas. As soon as we entered New Mexico, the landscape changed to hills and gorgeous views. My favorite car activities for entertaining myself during the trip were singing throwback songs, listening to podcasts, talking with my friends, and enjoying the views.

Snowboarding At Arizona Snowbowl

At last, we entered Arizona, which was a spectacular moment since we drove on the historic Route 66! It was amazing to feel like I was immersed in the Cars movie. 

When we arrived at the house we were staying in, we only had two things on our agenda — renting the snowboarding gear and preparing for our hike in the Grand Canyon.

All my life I have been a skier, but on this trip, I wanted to try something new — snowboarding. I was very nervous, but I decided to give it a try since all of my friends do snowboarding.

On Wednesday morning, the excitement was unstoppable! We woke up early, grabbed our gear, and headed up to Arizona Snowbowl on Mount Humphreys. However, we were a little concerned about the snow conditions, as we did not see any snow until we were 5 minutes away from the base of the ski resort. The view was breathtaking.

I took classes to learn how to snowboard for the first time, and after many, many falls, I finally got the hang of it at the end of the day! I was extremely happy because it meant that I would be able to join my friends in the mountains. 

A group of twelve college students in winter clothes posing in front of the Grand Canyon.

Visiting The Grand Canyon

On Thursday, to take a break from snowboarding, we decided to go hiking in the Grand Canyon. I had been there when I was very young, so I barely remembered how incredible the view was.

In all honesty, I feel like this side visit was the best part of the whole trip. You truly don’t believe your eyes and can’t wrap your head around how beautiful the Grand Canyon is. The pictures don’t do it any justice compared to its beauty in person.

Standing there in front of the canyon, I realized why it is one of the natural wonders of the world, especially after learning its history and how it was formed. If you ever have the opportunity to visit, even if it’s only for a couple of hours, GO! You won’t regret it.

For the next couple of days, we continued to head up the mountain and enjoy snowboarding. Any sport involving the snow is so refreshing. They are always a blast because it makes you feel so alive, so I am very glad to have tried snowboarding on this trip.

Seven college students in snowboarding gear standing in front of a snowy slope with pine trees.

Making The Most Of My Break

Although my body ached at the end of each day, it was so much fun to experience going with all of my friends. I still don’t know what I prefer between skiing and snowboarding, but I will say this — if you are looking for thrill and speed, go skiing; however, if you are looking to enjoy the mountain and surf the snow, then snowboarding is for you.

This spring break was unforgettable. I got to relax from my everyday life and enjoy a week filled with adventure, joy, laughter, and memories with the people I love. Now, more than ever, I am ready to crush the end of the semester and feel motivated for the rest of the year!

Change and Adapting

I hope this blog finds everyone in good health. A lot has happened since the last time I wrote; my fall semester went well, and I enjoyed the holidays with my family. The second semester started off really well, I was happy with my coursework, and I was giving tours every week!

I meet some excited to-be-students that were full of questions about the Biomedical Sciences programs, the certifications, and of course the Veterinary School. The best part of giving tours for me is talking about the admission process into vet school. I love that the interview section consists of several miniature interviews with only a couple of people. It gives each person a chance to kind of start over between each interview.

In February, I got the opportunity to sign up to be an ambassador at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. At first, I was hesitant because I am still new, and I have not done anything like this before. After weighing the pros and cons of this potential experience, I decided to participate. I ended up signing up for five shifts for the first half of my spring break.

On the Saturday of my first shift, I was nervous for two reasons: I was not 100% sure where I was going inside the NRG arena, and I was afraid I would not be able to answer people’s questions. Thankfully, my partner for the shift was able to answer the questions that I did not know. On each day that I was there, I learned more about myself and met many new people. On my six-hour drive home, I learned of the event shutting down to protect everyone involved from being exposed to the novel coronavirus.

Throughout the rest of my spring break, I was updated on how Texas A&M would be transferring all of its in-person class to an online format. As it became clear that I would need to move out of my dorm room, I drove to College Station to pack up all of my things and check out.

For me, it was a little emotional to have to move out so suddenly because I really loved the routine that my roommate and I established throughout the year.

The first week of online classes was definitely hard at first because both students and professors were unsure of how exactly this would go. Now we are in our third-week classes, and I am enjoying my morning of drinking hot tea and taking notes on my physics lecture. I had my first online test last week, and I am hoping to get some good results soon from it. Overall, I’d say that my online class experience has been great and it has given me a chance to take up new hobbies that I have been wanting to start like yoga and painting.

Hopefully, the next time I write, everything will be back to normal, but until then, stay healthy everyone!


Spring break this year was anything but normal in all aspects but one, my annual Texas State Park parade.

Every year, I venture off with my dogs, Luca, Svarta, and Zoey, to three Texas State Parks for a week filled with hiking, exploring, and copious amount of fresh air. In the past, we’ve gone to Lost Maples State Park, Garner State Park, Dinosaur Valley State Park, and a few others. But, by far, our favorites to go to are Enchanted Rock State Park, Pedernales Falls State Park, and McKinney Falls State Park, which is exactly where we headed to this last spring break.

The first park we went to was Enchanted Rock. The park is located right outside of Fredericksburg in the beautiful hill country of Texas and the pink granite and white quartz of the area make hiking around the area breathtaking!

After a long and fun-filled day at Enchanted Rock, we made our way back home and recouped for day hikes at Pedernales Falls and McKinney Falls. Toward the end of the week, and after getting our fill of sun and nature, we packed up our things and headed back to College Station to prepare for the unknown in the remaining weeks in the semester.

These past few weeks have been very dynamic, but one thing that is unchanging is the dedication of our professors here at vet school.

Every day, they send out email updates and meet us via video chat for our lectures. Classes that would have otherwise been impossible to incorporate via an online platform have been rearranged to accommodate us in this trying time.

Our surgery class is now distance learning from home as we video chat with our professors while performing procedures on the synthetic organs distributed to us. Our anesthesia class is now fully virtual with helpful question and answer sessions to reinforce the subject matter, and our clinical skills course still pushes on with at-home tutorials of how to perform necessary skills like equine dentistry, hoof care, and much more.

The curriculum was, to say the least, difficult, if not impossible, to adapt to an online format, but the staff and faculty which support our education have done it. One of our professors, while recording a lecture for us, was having mic issues and so aptly said, “we must adapt and overcome”, and that is exactly what we are all doing.


Spring Break, Indeed

Let’s be honest—veterinary school is no walk in the park. It’s designed to push, challenge, and shape you into the best possible veterinarian you can be, all while learning all of the factors that affect every species of patient you could possibly encounter.

Kelsi and her friends in CaboOne thing I have come to appreciate more than I ever could have imagined prior to starting veterinary school is the value of a break.

In the past, I have always spent my Spring Break working either for money or to better my veterinary school application; returning to school tended to be more relaxing than the week outside of class. I never imagined I would be able to afford to vacation somewhere for the break, so I always booked something else that week in order to have a reason other than a lack of funds to decline invitations.

This year, for the first time ever, I made the decision to ACTUALLY give myself a break, and it was one of the best decisions I could have ever made. Ever the money-conscious veterinary students, my roommate and I shopped around for deals and opportunities for mini-vacations and stumbled an affordable, all-inclusive adventure.

At 5 p.m. on March 8, my two roommates, a friend, and I headed out of College Station to go drop off our dogs and make our way to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

My fellow first-year veterinary student roommate and I had made a pact to truly give ourselves a break, meaning there would be no school work or conversation on our trip. For the next week we laid in the sun, rode jet skis in the ocean waves, napped, ate and drank as we pleased at an all-inclusive resort with not a single textbook or alarm in sight.

It was glorious.

I returned to school this week feeling completely refreshed and ready to tackle these last seven weeks of my first year of veterinary school.

While it was an adjustment to go back to being in class all day instead of taking midday naps by the pool, the 15 exams I have left in this semester does not fill me with dread like they did on March 8.

I can honestly say that choosing to allow myself to take a break was the best thing I could have ever done.

A Spring Break Surprise

Ali and Spencer Selfie
Ali and Spencer, newly engaged

Spring Break has come and gone in a flash!

I traveled to Utah’s Zion National Park with my boyfriend, Spencer, and we camped for three days under the Utah stars. Being used to waking up at 6 a.m. for school, it wasn’t hard for me to adjust to our early-morning hikes, but for Spencer, it was a bit harder! Beating the Spring Break crowd is a priority, because being in nature surrounded by loud strangers is never ideal. My favorite hike was up Angel’s Landing, one of the most coveted spots to hike in North America. Half of the trail is a series of 21 brutal uphill switchbacks, which make your legs (and lungs) shaky like Jell-O. A sedentary, studying lifestyle has somehow failed to put me in peak mountain-climbing shape.

mischievous chipmunk
The mischievous chipmunk that stole Ali’s lunch

The last half of the hike has chains built into the mountain, a narrow rock path, and cliffs on either side of you. I kept telling myself, “Don’t look down.” But it never worked. I repeatedly looked down and kept scaring myself. Six people have died climbing that cliff face since 2004, so it must be taken seriously.

Unexpectedly, as we were watching the early morning sun cover the canyon, Spencer got down on one knee and proposed to me. I said yes, of course, but was too afraid to wear the ring down the mountain, so I put it back in the box until we got to stable ground at the bottom. I am very excited to finish my last year of vet school in the clinics, marry him, and start our life together in 2019!Once at the top of Angel’s Landing, you can see across the entire Zion Canyon that has been explored by humans for thousands of years. It was a breathtaking view and a great reward for the challenging trip up to the summit!

Our second hike was up to Observation Point, a little higher and lengthier than Angel’s Landing, but a much less terrifying hike. There was a family of chipmunks at the top that were feistier than any animal I have ever met. National parks tell you to “Please do not feed the wildlife” when they really should warn you that wildlife will sneak into your backpack and drag your PBJ out of it. I never knew something so adorable could be so mischievous!

After not showering for three days, we headed to Las Vegas to celebrate our engagement with family. Someone asked me, “How are you going to study when you have a wedding to plan?” and I really have no idea. Being a vet student leaves us with such little time to think about anything except for vet school, but I think I will have to take some steps back and prioritize what is important!

We also traveled to the Hoover Dam, which is only 30 minutes away from Vegas in Boulder City. It is so much bigger than I could have ever imagined, and I cannot imagine the feat that it was to build it in 1935 to block the Colorado River.

I was curiously wandering around and found a dog’s grave near the entrance. The plaque states that the dog rode the bus and accompanied the workers to their job sites every day. But then, one day, he was sleeping and was run over by a truck and was mourned by the workers and buried under the guard tower. Such a special tribute to man’s best friend!

My Spring Break was a very needed respite from the stresses of vet school, so that I am fully recharged and ready to take on my last semester and last full year of clinics. I am slightly regretful of the amount of things that piled up over the week off; however, I know I will find a way to catch up, like I always do.

Dam DogAlong with tests, quizzes, and projects due this week, we are also getting ready for our Vet School Open House that is coming up this Saturday. I am volunteering to present a surgery simulation where we show what veterinary surgeons look like gowned, masked, and gloved-up in the operating room. It is always so much fun interacting with kids and adults who share our passion for animals and science. Hopefully, we can inspire some little minds to join this amazing and rewarding profession!

A Blessing in Disguise

Priya during ASB
Priya spent last her last spring break working at an animal shelter in New Orleans as part of Texas A&M’s Alternative Spring Break project.

With spring break being less than three weeks away, I find myself remembering my spring break last year and how that one week completely changed my college career for the better.

Last year, I was blessed with the opportunity to go to New Orleans for the entire week and volunteer at an animal shelter through Alternative Spring Break (ASB).

ASB is a service-based organization in and out of the BCS community that primarily aims to provide students with a meaningful spring break experience through selfless service. Every year, a group of about 45 students choose between four projects across the country through which they can make the most out of their week away from school and classes.

Originally, I was signed up and ready to go to Oklahoma to volunteer at a Native American Reservation. When that trip was cancelled, I was, instead, placed on the New Orleans trip, which looking back was a blessing in disguise.

Beignets from NolaI remember sitting in the van en route to New Orleans and being nervous about how my spring break was going to turn out. I didn’t know anyone on my trip because I was added to it at the last minute and I didn’t know what to expect from the volunteer site.

But New Orleans changed my life. From eating beignets every morning, to playing with the sweetest dogs and cats every day and bonding with my group every night, I can definitely say I made some of my favorite college memories on that trip.

The shelter we volunteered at was heavily understaffed and there were way too many dogs and cats for all of the employees to shower with affection, so we were able to do what they couldn’t. After being in their cages all day, the larger dogs, especially, had a ton of energy and got so excited about the smallest things, even just playing with us for 10 minutes.

We left with a bunch of scratches and bruises, but it was definitely worth it to give the animals the loving attention they deserve!

Additionally, were able to help the staff, too, by cleaning cages, changing food bowls, doing laundry, giving some of the smaller dogs haircuts and baths, and organizing the very unorganized linen cabinet.

The pre-veterinary students even got the opportunity to shadow the on-site veterinarian when he was spaying and neutering the dogs that were new to the shelter.

Priya with her ASB friends
Priya, with the new friends she made during her ASB experience

After volunteering from only 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., my group and I were free to explore the city! Some of the things we did included holding baby alligators, taking Instagram-worthy pictures at the Botanical Gardens, shopping around the French Quarter and Magazine Street, going on a haunted city tour, and ending the experience by watching the St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

I loved that I was able to positively impact so many people and animals through a fun volunteer experience.When the week was over and we were back in College Station, I knew that I wanted to go on another volunteer spring break trip again.

So, this year, ASB is taking me to Memphis to volunteer at a food bank in an underserved area! I can’t wait to see how Memphis will change my life like New Orleans did!

A piece of advice that I always give to prospective college students is to never be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone.

I stepped outside of mine by going to a city I had never been to with people I had never met; I left with an incomparable experience, a group of people whom I now consider some of my best friends, and a new passion for selfless service.