‘Set’ for Success: From Volleyball to Veterinary School

Story by Margaret Preigh, CVMBS Communications

Alyssa Kool playing volleyball
Alyssa Kool

Alyssa Kool, a second-year veterinary student at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM), likes to keep busy.

A student athlete-turned-veterinary student, she credits her successes in veterinary school to the skills in time management, communication, and dedication that she learned through her sport.

Raised in Plano, Kool had always been surrounded by a wide cast of pets, including cats, dogs, frogs, and hamsters. She developed an interest in animal care in high school when she raised sheep for two years through the Future Farmers of America organization.

“I knew I wanted to be a veterinarian since I was 4 years old,” Kool said. “I’m one of those people who just knew pretty much from birth and has always gone on this path.”

In addition to her strong interest in animals, Kool developed a passion for volleyball in the third grade.

This passion has paid off, landing Kool at the USA Volleyball Girls Junior National Championship five times and taking her across the country for the sport. After graduating high school, Kool accepted an offer from Arkansas Tech University, a NCAA Division II school, to play on their team as a setter. She played for three years before being disqualified from competition for multiple concussions.

In addition to her achievements playing volleyball, Kool earned two degrees during her time at Arkansas Tech University—one in biology and another in agricultural business. Strong time management skills were integral to her success in both athletics and academics.

“I was involved in a lot,” she said. “I was a student athlete, so we were traveling three times a week for games. I was in multiple clubs; I was president of a few, and I spread myself pretty thin.”

Kool’s intense undergraduate experience prepared her well for the fast-paced environment of veterinary school, she believes.

“Being challenged with my time as an undergraduate made me to learn how to plan,” Kool said. “I follow a schedule for each day. I wouldn’t have been able to adapt as quickly as I have if I didn’t learn how to follow a tight schedule.”

Alyssa Kool during a volleyball game
Alyssa Kool (with volleyball)

The comradery Kool shared with her volleyball team has also enriched her experience in veterinary school, as she learned to trust and collaborate with her peers in high-stress situations. The position she played—setter—gave Kool the confidence to step out as a leader in fast-paced environments.

“Setter is kind of the quarterback of volleyball. I’ve always been super vocal, so I’ve always been a leader,” she said. “I’m good at following my gut. I’ve learned from high pressure situations on the court and applied that to the high-pressure situations of taking a test or being in a surgery.

“I am able to step back from that high-stress feeling and take a deep breath to just breathe through the situation,” she said.

Kool remains involved with the sport, playing on an intramural volleyball team with other veterinary students. At the CVM, she is also a Zoetis Student Representative, member of the CVM White Coats, Health and Wellness Representative for the Class of 2022, Student Chapter of the American Veterinary Medical Association wellness chair, and a member of Student Chapter of the American Association of Bovine Practitioners and of the Christian Veterinary Foundation.

After she graduates from the CVM, Kool hopes to pursue a career in mixed rural medicine in the South, a specialty that requires the veterinarian to be proficient in the treatment of all species.

“I’m drawn to the everyday challenge of it,” she said. “As a veterinarian, you never know what’s going to walk through the doors, especially rural mixed. You literally could have a fox walk in or a snake.”

Kool goes to hit a volleyball
Alyssa Kool

Kool is motivated by the interpersonal relationships rural mixed animal veterinarians form with the members of their community. The support she would provide at emotional times in a pet owner’s life, such as adopting a new pet or caring for an old friend at the end of their life, is a task that Kool would like to step up to.

“I think part of that just stems from that background of being an extrovert,” Kool said. “A lot of my motivation comes from the fact that I really like to help people and be with them through it all.”

Kool, in part, credits her desire to work with people to the mentors who have supported her in her journey to veterinary school. This list includes her volleyball coach, mixed rural veterinarians with whom she has interned, and CVM professors who have offered guidance along the way.

“An amazing community is formed around me and I’m really thankful for the people I have,” she said. “My mentors in my undergraduate education pushed me along every day.”


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

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