CVMBS Graduate Student Prepares For Future In Exotic Animal Medicine

Story by Megan Myers, CVMBS Communications

Austin Warren at the Winnie Carter Wildlife Center
Austin Warren

As a self-described thrill-seeker, future wildlife and exotic animal veterinarian Austin Warren looks forward to the day he can work up close and personal with animals that many other people may find frightening.

“I’m not scared of many animals; I enjoy the excitement of seeing wild animals in person,” the Lewisville native said. “I remember a book my mom bought me when I was growing up that was basically a huge encyclopedia of exotic animals. I used to love the thrill I got from reading it, and I knew I wanted to explore and learn more about those kinds of animals in my future profession.”

Currently in his first year of the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences’ (CVMBS) biomedical sciences master’s non-thesis program, Warren works hard each day to get closer to achieving his goal.

After he earned a bachelor’s degree in biomedical sciences in 2020, Warren decided to pursue a master’s degree to enhance his future application to veterinary school, and to have more time for gaining hands-on experience with animals—one of his favorite pastimes.

“I’ve always been an adventurous person,” he said “When I was a Boy Scout, and then an Eagle Scout, I went camping and got to see black bears, brown bears, exotic cats, and all of these different types of animals out in the wild. Since then, I’ve always been fascinated with the complexities and different natures that exotic animals have.”

Beyond working with wild animals, Warren also plans to make teaching and inspiring children a large part of his future career.

“I’ve always had a drive to give back to the next generation,” he said. “I’m a big proponent of making sure that the people who come after us have a better experience than we had. I’ve always connected well with young children, so I want to spark some love for animals in them and teach them about wildlife. That’s the ultimate goal for me.

“I remember one time, in particular, there was a guy who came to my elementary school with a bunch of different snakes and exotic birds,” he recalled. “He knew so many different facts about those animals and I found that so cool and interesting. I want to have that same effect on children.”

Dr. Alice Blue-McLendon and Warren with a zebra in the background
Dr. Alice Blue-McLendon and Warren

Warren is in the perfect place to build on his animal knowledge at the CVMBS, especially from his faculty mentor Dr. Alice Blue-McLendon, director of the Winnie Carter Wildlife Center.

“It’s been a real pleasure to work with Austin,” Blue said. “He is an excellent graduate student and athlete, and it’s fun to work with students who are really driven and want to be exotic animal veterinarians.”

In addition to studying for his master’s degree and gaining experience with exotic animals wherever and whenever possible, Warren stays busy working as a large animal caretaker at the Texas A&M Large Animal Hospital (LAH) and running sprints as a member of Texas A&M’s track and field team.

While some might buckle under the pressure of so many demands, Warren credits his father, Andre Warren ’89, as his motivation for working hard each day toward his degree and future career.

“My father is such a hard worker and he’s showed me that if you want something in life, you have to be determined and work hard for it,” Warren said. “He set the foundation for me to be able to strive, dream big, and achieve the goals that I go after.

“I used to stay very much within my own comfort zone. I didn’t like to go over and talk to people unless I knew them already,” he said. “My dad pushed me and showed me that if you want something, you sometimes have to take that first step. Ever since then, I’ve made it almost second nature to introduce myself, get to know people, and show my personality.”

Recently, that willingness to show his personality led Warren to submit a video for the scrubs company FIGS’ New Icons Grant competition that celebrates students in the medical fields who are working to improve the future of healthcare by awarding five scholarships of $50,000.

“A couple friends who are good at film and I got together one weekend and filmed a video in which I said why I deserved to win and what I want to do in the future,” he said. “Two or three weeks later, I’m at work and I get an email saying I’m a finalist; then, literally the next day, I get a call from the CEO of FIGS and she told me I won the scholarship. I’m not going to lie, I almost passed out.

“Everything changed for me at that point, because now my story has been shared all over the internet,” he said. “I’ve gotten a lot of love and support from people, and I’ve gotten so many new opportunities and doors opened because of it, like people reaching out to me saying, ‘Hey, if you’re ever in town and you want to come to the clinic, just let me know.’ I’m going to be forever grateful for that.”

As he prepares to apply for veterinary school next year, Warren has no plans to slow down in his efforts to achieve his dreams of working with wild and exotic animals.

“Becoming a veterinarian is something I’ve been really wanting and striving for nearly five years now,” Warren said. “I’ve been determined and focused while trying to chase the dream and I’m just going to keep pushing until I get there.”

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For more information about the Texas A&M College 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 CVMBS Communications, Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences; jgauntt@cvm.tamu.edu; 979-862-4216


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