A Journey Of Determination: Aileen Solis’ Path To Veterinary Success

Story by Courtney Price, VMBS Communications

Aileen Solis in front of the VENI building
Aileen Solis
Photos by Jason Nitsch ’14, School of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences

When Aileen Solis began her journey from Amarillo, Texas, to pursue her dream of becoming a veterinarian at Texas A&M University, she encountered both expected and unexpected hurdles. 

Graduating with her undergraduate degree amid the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, while balancing the academic rigor of veterinary school with the responsibilities of parenthood, Solis navigated the challenges with determination and unwavering focus — with one goal in mind.   

“It was hard to leave my family, but we knew that the faster I finished my veterinary degree, the faster I could come home,” she said. 

 An Early Passion

Solis first developed a passion for veterinary care during her adolescence, when she spent time with the animals on her family’s ranch, including horses, sheep, goats, and chickens. This early passion inspired her to pursue a degree in animal science from West Texas A&M University (WT), which she completed in December 2019, setting the stage for her journey into the world of veterinary medicine.

While at WT, Solis found a supportive network within the Texas A&M School of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Science’s (VMBS) Veterinary Education, Research, & Outreach (VERO) program, which is located on the WT campus. 

Encouraged by mentors like Dr. Dan Posey, director of student recruitment and professional relationships at VERO, Solis joined the Pre-Vet Club. It was through that club that Solis was given an opportunity to visit the VMBS in College Station. 

During one of these visits, Solis quickly fell in love with Texas A&M.

“When I set foot on campus, it just felt like home,” Solis shared. “I could see myself there in the future, and it was where I needed to be.”

In the end, Solis was accepted to three different Doctor of Veterinary Medicine programs, but she knew that Texas A&M was her first choice, despite the more than 500-mile distance from home.

“I spoke with my parents and Dr. Posey extensively; they encouraged me to go for it,” she said. 

Aileen examines a brown fluffy dog
Aileen Solis and Jewel

Making Sacrifices

There was just one wrinkle in the plan — Solis had a young daughter she needed to care for. Facing the daunting task of leaving her family behind, Solis said the decision was made easier because of the support of her loved ones and her steadfast commitment to her daughter, Adeline; it would be a sacrifice that was ultimately worthwhile.

“My daughter is 8 years old; she was the biggest factor in all my decisions,” Solis said. “I needed to figure out how I was going to conquer vet school and still be a parent to my little girl.”

Thankfully, Solis’ family and Adeline’s father stepped up to take care of her daughter in Amarillo while she attended class in College Station.

“It was extremely hard, but I don’t think I would have received this experience anywhere else,” she said. “In the end, everything worked out, and I wouldn’t change a thing.”

Practicing Flexibility 

Navigating the complexities of veterinary school as a parent can be difficult enough; however, starting the veterinary program during a global pandemic only added to the challenges. 

“The VMBS did a phenomenal job of making our academic experience as fulfilling as possible with the limitations that they had to abide by,” she said. “It wasn’t ideal, but we all made it work, both the students and faculty, and we couldn’t have done it if we hadn’t been working in concert.”

Still, Solis says that she wouldn’t change a thing about starting vet school when she did, expressing gratitude for the support of her professors and peers in accommodating her needs. 

“The faculty and my classmates have been incredibly understanding,” Solis shared. “They have helped make weekend trips possible by taking on extra responsibilities, allowing me to travel home when needed. Their support has been instrumental in balancing my academic pursuits with family obligations. 

“This collaborative spirit within the veterinary community exemplifies the power of empathy and solidarity in overcoming challenges together,” she said. 

Discovering a New Path

Aileen Solis doing gig 'em
Aileen Solis

Another surprise — this one positive — came during her second year of veterinary school, when Solis attended an externship at Swann Animal Clinic, a small animal veterinary hospital back in her hometown.

“I love large animals and was familiar with them because of growing up in the Panhandle,” she said. “While I was at Swann, I realized I also could practice small animal medicine.”

Solis didn’t expect to fit in so well at a small animal clinic, but the welcoming environment, paired with the invaluable experiences she gained at Swann, solidified her decision to embark on a new path.

“They treated me so well during my time there. They knew I had already been a vet technician, and so they let me shadow the doctors. It really helped me see myself there,” she said. “They also pointed out that talking to small animal clients is something that comes very naturally to me.”

During her fourth-year clinical rotations, Solis set up another externship at Swann to help her decide which path to take — small, large, or mixed animal practice.

“The second week I was there basically became my working interview, and they offered me the job. I’ll be starting in July of this year,” she said. 

 Returning Home

Thanks to her supportive communities both at home and in College Station, Solis is excited to graduate this spring as an Aggie veterinarian and return to Amarillo as a team member at Swann Animal Clinic. 

With a job offer in hand and having passed her veterinary licensing examination, Solis is ready to begin a new chapter of her veterinary career. 

“There were lots of learning curves and it was definitely a humbling experience, both academically and personally,” she said. “And it was absolutely worth it.”


For more information about the Texas A&M School of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, please visit our website at vetmed.tamu.edu or join us on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.

Contact Information: Jennifer Gauntt, Director of VMBS Communications, Texas A&M School of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, jgauntt@cvm.tamu.edu, 979-862-4216

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