CVM Veterinary Student Shares Journey with Thousands of Prospective Students

Rachel Ellerd holding a baby alligator
Rachel Ellerd

The path through veterinary school is filled with many excitements and challenges, and one veterinary student at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM) is sharing them all.

Third-year veterinary student Rachel Ellerd has more than 8,000 followers on Instagram and a popular blog, both of which she uses to share her journey as a veterinary student and fun facts about exotic animal medicine, a field in which she hopes to specialize.

By frequently sharing tips on how to prepare for veterinary school and updates on her current research on reptiles and amphibians, Ellerd finds many ways to encourage and excite those interested in attending veterinary school.

“I’ve had prospective students tell me that they’ve decided to apply to Texas A&M after seeing how amazing the program has been for me,” Ellerd said. “I’ve had others tell me that I inspired them to follow their dreams of practicing exotic animal medicine, regardless of the challenging path that it takes.”

Her following consists mostly of prospective veterinary students, current veterinary students, and veterinarians, but she has also gained a following among those interested exotic pets, wildlife, conservation, and other fields of One Health.

“Unfortunately, many exotic pets’ ailments happen because of improper husbandry; their care isn’t as straightforward as typical dogs and cats,” Ellerd said. “Many owners are unaware of exotic pets’ specific temperature, lighting, humidity, and dietary requirements, so I like to share husbandry tips to help people keep their pets healthy.”

Rachel Ellerd in safari attire with giraffes in the background
Rachel Ellerd

One of Ellerd’s most popular posts shows her adventures studying abroad in South Africa with one of her veterinary mentors, CVM clinical associate professor Dr. Alice Blue-McClendon, and doing veterinary volunteer work in Thailand and Vietnam.

“I love educating people about exotic animals,” she said. “While working at the Austin Aquarium, it made me so happy to help someone overcome their fear of snakes and birds. These animals are so important for the environment, but sometimes they’re misunderstood and suffer for it. Education is the only way to change people’s attitudes toward these amazing species.”

Ellerd has been sponsored by a few companies wishing to share their products with the veterinary community, including the popular scrubs company FIGS and stethoscope company Eko Health.

Ellerd with her Eko Health stethoscope and FIGS scrubs
Rachel Ellerd with her Eko Health stethoscope and FIGS scrubs

“I’ve had a couple different companies contact me for advertisement, but I only endorse the ones I’m truly passionate about,” she said. “For instance, I really got behind Eko Health because of their revolutionary stethoscopes. As a student with hearing-impairment, their digital stethoscope that could increase its volume was life-changing for me. The fact that it doubles as a portable ECG was revolutionary when I was monitoring wildlife while doing field work or working in rural areas in Thailand.”

Ellerd hopes to continue sharing her journey through veterinary school and beyond, especially during her fourth-year clinical rotations. She has externships planned at The Dallas Zoo, Fort Worth Zoo, Toronto Zoo, and Texas Avian and Exotic Hospital, an exotics-only clinic that she has shadowed at in the past.

“One of the veterinarians I look up to most is Dr. Lauren Thielen (CVM Class of 2013) at Texas Avian and Exotic Hospital,” Ellerd said. “Not only is she an incredible exotic animal veterinarian, but she inspires and educates so many people about exotic pets through her TV show ‘Dr. T Lone Star Vet.’ It would be the dream to learn from her and follow in her footsteps.”

Thanks to her social media presence and blog, as Ellerd goes on to follow her dreams, she’ll help future generations of veterinarians create and follow their own dreams, too.

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