PEER Teaches Local Youth About Veterinary Medicine, the College Experience

Texas A&M PEER student fellows talking to kids at a booth

The Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences’ (CVM) Partnership for Environmental Education and Rural Health (PEER) program hosted two booths at the Bryan/College Station Chamber of Commerce Youth to Career fair to teach local youth about veterinary medicine and the college experience.

The Youth to Career fair, on Oct. 16 at the Brazos Valley Expo Complex, encouraged more than 2,700 eighth grade students from the Brazos Valley to explore a variety of career options.

“The event was a huge success! PEER had the opportunity to talk to many students about careers in the STEM field,” said Kristen Watts, a senior biomedical sciences (BIMS) major and PEER student fellow.

At PEER’s first booth, CVM students used teaching models of a skull, bisected horse leg, and more to grab students’ interest and initiate discussions on veterinary medicine, biomedical sciences, and the PEER program.

“I became very excited whenever a student was interested in veterinary medicine because it gave me the opportunity to share what I’ve learned about the journey in becoming a veterinarian,” Watts said. “When I was a student, I did not have an opportunity to learn about veterinary school the way these students do.

“Helping local youth figure out what they want to be when they grow up is a rewarding opportunity because these students are the future of veterinary medicine,” she said. “Playing a role in that process is why I love working for the PEER program.”

Texas A&M PEER student fellows talking to kids at a booth

The second PEER booth at the fair was dedicated to teaching local youth about the college experience, including study resources, guides for success, and general career advice.

“A lot of the eighth graders we met had really amazing dreams and aspirations,” said Chanyanuch “Belle” Nakapakorn, a senior BIMS major. “Most of the students we spoke to were intimidated by the idea of college, so I was happy to be able to talk to them and reassure them that college isn’t as impossible as it seems.”

Nicholas Tan, also a senior BIMS major, said it was interesting to hear the questions that the students asked at the event. Some common questions included, “Is college hard?” “How can I get a scholarship or financial aid?” and “Do you really party like college students do in the movies?”

“The students were interested in a broad spectrum of careers,” Tan said. “We had a good amount who want to pursue VetMed and other fields of biomedicine, but also several looking into engineering, law, and liberal arts. We really just wanted to plant some seeds of thought and get them thinking about college early.

“Interacting with youth is always a fun and fulfilling experience,” he said. “What’s enjoyable is knowing that, despite only having a few minutes per interaction, each one of those interactions has the potential to influence a student’s future.”

Other PEER student fellows who worked at the event were third-year veterinary student Andy Castro, BIMS seniors Etiel Ghirmay and Kate Molina, BIMS juniors Varun Trivedi and Megan Bishop, BIMS sophomores Alejandra Rivera and Megan Mize, and BIMS freshmen Grace Krejci and Anna Sentmanat.

“The PEER student fellows represented a diverse ethnic makeup to provide near-peer mentors to most all eighth graders attending,” said Dr. Larry Johnson, PEER principle investigator at Texas A&M.

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