Instant Friendship in Veterinary School

I have recently started my four-year long journey toward achieving my dream of being
a feline specialty veterinarian.

Starting veterinary school is a lot like starting kindergarten: it’s a completely new experience, you miss your mom, you REALLY want a nap, and everyone starts to ask you “Did you make new friends?”

But I have good news for you—just like in kindergarten, making friends in veterinary school is as simple as saying “Do you want to be friends?”

Part of starting veterinary school was understanding that every one of my 161 classmates feels just like I do: nervous, excited, and eager to make new friends.

Luckily, we get sorted into so many smaller groups of students that it is so easy to get to know people! We have our student mentor groups, our anatomy lab groups, our physiology lab groups, and even histology lab groups.

The administration sorts us based on our animal experience and background, so each small group has a diverse amount of experience. This means that I have met so many new people who grew up different areas, see the world in different ways, and have differing personalities, but we’re all bonded by our passion and love of veterinary medicine.

Not only is everyone eager to be friends, but everyone has fully embraced the family mentality. Starting veterinary school has given me an extended family filled with loving, supportive people.

For instance, I am somewhat nervous about working with horses. When I expressed this nervousness, several people immediately offered to give me tips for working around horses. In return, I can help them learn about cat behavior!

We are truly all in this together, here to lift each other up and help each other succeed.

I am so honored to be a student in the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, and I know I am about to experience the best four years of my life surrounded by the best people in the world.

A Summer to Remember

Last school year, I struggled to figure out what I was going to do with my summer. All of my classmates seemed to have amazing externships lined up, but all I had planned was hanging out with my family. So, I decided to take a leap and go on two international externships. I have always loved traveling and decided that this would be a great way to do something productive with my summer, while also seeing the world.

My first stop was Playa del Carmen, Mexico, for MARVET, a marine animal medicine veterinary externship. I was able to get some hands-on experience with dolphins, manatees, sharks, and sea lions. Clinicians from around the United States and Mexico spoke to us about aquatic animal rehabilitation, husbandry, and medicine. It was amazing to meet so many accomplished clinicians in the field in which I hope to work, while also being able to gain some much-needed hands-on experience.

Next, I headed to Bocas del Toro, Panama, for the CARES Project. CARES is an externship for veterinary and pre-veterinary students that focuses on wildlife medicine, conservation medicine, and One Health—a field that is focuses on the interrelationship between veterinary medicine, human medicine, and the environment. Visiting Bocas del Toro and participating in the CARES Project was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I was able to assist in many dog and cat surgeries, see a wild sea turtle, help in educating the indigenous communities about the importance of clean water and animal health, and conduct a physical exam on a white-faced capuchin monkey.

MARVET group
The MARVET group in Mexico

While I was initially hesitant about traveling to foreign countries I had never visited, I’m so glad I took the risk and decided to go. I learned so much by getting out of my comfort zone. Meeting clinicians and other students who are passionate about the same things I am was a great reinforcement to get through the next three years of veterinary school. Whenever I start feeling discouraged, I know that I can draw on those memories and knowledge.

My advice to anyone searching for something to do over the summer is to embrace your passion and do something that pushes you out of your comfort zone. You never know what experiences you’ll have!