Finding The Beat In Veterinary School

Story by Margaret Preigh, CVMBS Communications

Emily Hoskins singing
Emily Hoskins performing her senior recital.

Emily Hoskins, a third-year veterinary student at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM), has plenty of experience in the spotlight as an opera singer. Now, she is learning to take center stage in a surgery theater, as well.

Hoskins’ love of opera singing began long before her interest in veterinary medicine. Ever since Hoskins was a young child, her mother and two older sisters reinforced a love of singing and opera that has been passed down from Hoskins’ grandfather.

“I remember waking up in the mornings when I was very little,” Hoskins said. “When it was time to get ready for school, my mom would have classical music playing. She would love to play ‘name that composer’ or ‘name that opera’ with me growing up.”

Pursuing this interest, Hoskins became involved with her junior high choir. As she progressed, she had the opportunity to perform with the Houston Grand Opera and was very involved with her high school’s theater and choir program. By graduation, Hoskins set off to pursue a college degree in vocal performance with the intent of becoming a professional opera singer.

However, while completing general education courses at Texas A&M Galveston, Hoskins’ plans shifted as she discovered a love for the sciences. With the help of academic advisers at the College Station campus, Hoskins decided to transfer to main campus and pursue two undergraduate degrees at Texas A&M—in animal science and in music and voice.

“I felt like I was getting to use both sides of my brain. When I was sick of studying for organic chemistry, I could go and memorize the German for the piece I had to sing for voice studio the next day,” Hoskins said.  “I really loved having both the science and the art side.”

Though Hoskins’ path of study worked well in providing variety to her education, there were moments when her two worlds mixed in humorous ways.

“My favorite story is when I was taking my meat science class for animal science; it was right before my theory class in music,” she said. “I had my knife scabbard from my meat science class and was running late, so I ran straight into my theory class with all my other music classmates.

“They asked, ‘What is that?’ And I said, ‘This is my knife scabbard. I just came from meat science class where we were learning how to butcher hogs,’” she recalled. “At first, there was this silence, but then they started asking questions, which was so cool because it was combining those two worlds, and I was able to answer some of them.”

Hoskins said she believes there is more interaction between the science and art worlds than people realize, with a mutual curiosity connecting the two. She also thinks that her involvement in both worlds has taught her how to communicate with people of many different mindsets, a skill essential to veterinary medicine.

After graduating from Texas A&M with dual degrees, Hoskins remained at the school to pursue a master’s degree in animal science and physiology of reproduction. She enjoyed delving deep into one corner of science, but left the program wanting to explore the “broader picture.” She applied to veterinary school at the CVM and was accepted on her first attempt.

Emily Hoskins performing Gretchen am Spinnrade, accompanied by Professor Andrea Imhoff.

“I completely fell in love with physiology and the sciences. It made me really excited in a similar way that singing did,” she said. “I just knew that this was the right path for me, and I really wanted to explore this world more. I would always have music and singing, and I could always come back to it. I’m learning that I can do both.”

Indeed, at the CVM, Hoskins has found a group of other veterinary students with similar backgrounds who gather to destress and connect through music.

Hoskins also hopes to apply skills she learned in performance to her duties as a veterinarian.

“I try to pull from the breathing techniques and the things I would do to stay calm before singing before doing surgical procedures,” she said. “The difference is when it came to singing and performing, I got to prepare every little thing before I performed. With surgery and dealing with animals, unexpected things can happen and you do just have to think fast and jump in.”

She appreciates that many veterinary students come from unique backgrounds and that though the rigor of veterinary school may make it difficult to engage with other worlds, doing so can only enrich one’s experience.

“You should absolutely be proud of and emphasize anything that you have that gives you a unique story and is a different path than other people followed to get here,” she said. “That’s what makes you able to bring your own unique skills and your own unique background to veterinary medicine, which is awesome.”

Her continued involvement with music has enriched her life, and Hoskins asserts that staying connected with one’s hobbies is an important but conscious choice, especially in a program as rigorous as veterinary school.

“I would encourage anybody to find some outlet, even in first year. It might not be an every week thing, it might be a once a month thing,” she said. “If there’s a piece of yourself that you have before veterinary school, don’t shut that down.

“It’s what makes you you,” she said.

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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 CVM Communications, Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences; jgauntt@cvm.tamu.edu; 979-862-4216


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